Wailuku is a census-designated place in Maui County, Hawaii, with a population of approximately 13,000. Since 1985, the Maui Police Department has conducted at least two web-based reverse stings in Wailuku that targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex. A set of operations conducted in 2007 resulted in the arrest of 16 sex buyers. The Maui Police Department’s Vice Division made the arrests and charged each man with soliciting prostitution in a series of weekend reverse stings. The operations involved an undercover female police officer who stood in public areas late at night in Wailuku and Lahaina, where she was approached and asked for sex in exchange for money. During a reverse sting conducted in Wailuku, nine men were arrested and each was charged with one count of prostitution — including six Wailuku residents, two from Kahului and one who gave no address. The same type of “reverse operation” was conducted near a Lahaina park and resulted in arrests of three Lahaina residents. All of the men charged in the investigation posted $200 bail in what Matsunaga called the “first of its kind” prostitution arrests in Maui County. Arrests of prostitutes soliciting customers have been made in the past; however, this particular investigation concentrated on customers. At the time, police planed to have more prostitution stings aimed at customers. Police also said in most of these cases, the defendants enter guilty pleas to avoid further embarrassment of going to trial when charged with the petty misdemeanor. A person convicted of committing the offense of prostitution for the first time in Hawaii faces a mandatory fine of $500 and the possibility of probation or being ordered to spend up to 30 days in jail. If a defendant defaults on paying the fine, he could be ordered to perform community service. Another reverse sting in 2010 was conducted in Wailuku and other communities.
- Maui Police Department
- Street-Level Reverse Stings:
- “12 Maui Men Charged in Prostitution Sting,” Honolulu Advertiser, September 18 2007.
- http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2007/Sep/18/br/br0816497325.html (2007)
- “Lacking a Prostitute, Sting Nets Customers; Maui Police Arrest 12 ‘Johns’ over the Last Two Weekends,” Honolulu Star-Bulletin, September 19 2007.
- “14 Arrested in Stings against Prostitution,” Maui News, August 31 2010.