Maui County is a county of approximately 155,000 residents, consisting of the islands of Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Kahoolawe and Molokini. In addition to supporting community-level efforts to reduce prostitution in the census-designated places of Wailuku and Kihei, the Maui County Police Department has at times staged demand-reduction operations from undisclosed locations within the county. Following their arrests, sex buyers have had their identities publicized in press.
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.
- Maui County Police Department