Maui County, HI

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Maui County is a county of approximately 165,000 residents, consisting of the islands of Maui, Lanai, Molokai, and Kaho’olawe. The county’s population center is Maui and the county seat is Wailuku. Prostitution, sex trafficking activity, and related crimes (such as drug offenses) have been documented in the county, and have led to complaints to the police from residents. Among the more serious crimes associated with the county’s commercial sex market are child sex trafficking and the solicitation of minors for paid sexual abuse.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. 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 staged demand-reduction operations from undisclosed locations within the county. For example, in 2007, the first reverse sting took place which led to the arrest of 12 sex buyers. The vice squad Captain stated that there were two reasons for the sting:

“One is, we wanted to curtail any prostitution activity occurring anywhere in Maui County. No. 2 is to gather intelligence in prostitution activity in Maui County.”

These operations are often conducted with assistance from other local police stations. For example, in 2019, the Maui Police Department’s Vice Gambling and Morals Unit, with assistance from officers from the Wailuku Police Station, conducted a reverse sting operation at a local Maui hotel. This operation resulted in the arrest of 13 male sex buyers on charges of soliciting prostitution.

In addition to street-level reverse sting operations, web-based reverse stings have also occurred in the county. Following their arrests, sex buyers have had their identities publicized in the press. In February 2020, Maui police conducted a web-based reverse sting called “Operation Valentine,” using an undercover officer and an online ad for an “escort” service. The operation was conducted by the Maui Police Department’s Vice Gambling and Morals Unit, with the assistance of Lahaina Patrol officers, and resulted in the arrest of ten male sex buyers for solicitation of prostitution near schools or public parks. Court records show that the men arrested in the operation were ordered to pay fines ranging from $500 to $750 after they pled no contest to prostitution. In addition to the arrests, officers also recovered over $38,000 in cash. The identities, ages, and charges of arrested sex buyers were included in reports by local media outlets.

In March 2020, the Maui County Police Department led efforts to arrest offenders of internet-facilitated sexual crimes against children and identify and rescue child victims of sexual exploitation and abuse. With assistance from the Department of the Attorney General, ICAC Taskforce, the Honolulu Police Department, the Kauai Police Department, the United States Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Honolulu, the United States Secret Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a total of 26 individuals have been arrested on Maui as of March 2022.

Loss of employment is also a consequence of sex buying that occurs in the county. For example, in 2019, a Maui police officer was arrested at the Kahului Airport after a woman reported to the Maui County Police Department that the officer that had arrested her for drunk driving earlier that year, had solicited her for sex in exchange for a false testimony during her trial. According to reports, the man “pleaded guilty to several counts of honest services wire fraud and admitted that he solicited sex from a woman he arrested hours earlier in exchange for throwing his testimony.” In November 2021, he was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. As a result of his arrest, police reported that the offender was fired in November 2019, after being placed on unpaid leave in August 2019. In December 2021, the former officer was arrested during Operation Keiki Shield for allegedly attempting to solicit a 13-year-old girl online for sexual abuse in exchange for money. Undercover officers posing as the underage girl online arrested the former officer on charges of attempted enticement of a minor. In April 2022, the former officer pleaded guilty to a single count of attempted enticement of a minor. The charge of attempted enticement of a minor provided for a mandatory minimum sentence of no less than 10 years and up to life, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of no less than five years and up to life. Sentences were imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. The offender was also required to register as a sex offender, as required by the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. His identity and image were released by the Maui County Police Department as a result of the investigation.

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Loss of Employment, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

State Prostitution Laws:

Research and Reports:

State Hawaii
Type County
Population 164754
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