Kihei is a census-designated place (CDP) in Maui County, Hawaii. It has approximately 21,000 residents. In recent years, community members have noted a significant increase in commercial sex sales in the area as many prostituted women have relocated their activities from West Maui’s hotels to less-expensive facilities in Kihei. To deter sex buyers, the Maui Police Department routinely conducts street-level reverse stings, and incorporated the use of web stings in 2009. Once arrested, johns may have their names and identifying information released to the media.
In February 2020 Police conducted a web-based reverse sting called “Operation Valentine,” using an undercover officer and an online ad for an “escort” service. Ten men were arrested in the operation. One man responded to the ad and exchanged 50 or 60 text messages (some including suggestive photos), starting at 6 a.m. Feb. 8 and continuing until he was in the hotel parking lot Feb. 12 and needed the room number. He went into the hotel room where the undercover officer was and put $120 in cash on the table, and then was arrested by uniformed officers waiting in an adjacent room. After pleading no contest to a charge of prostitution, the man was ordered by prosecutors to pay a $1,000 fine and agreed to forfeit the $120 he put on the table at the hotel. Court records show that other men arrested in the operation were ordered to pay fines ranging from $500 to $750 after they pleaded no contest or guilty to prostitution.
- Reverse Stings:
- Web Stings: