A sting operation involving multiple law enforcement agencies in Hawaii has resulted in charges against seven men who are accused of soliciting who they believed to be minors for sex and arranging to meet up with them on Maui.
The suspects were arrested between Friday and Sunday when they arrived to rendezvous with their intended victims but were met by law enforcement officers instead, according to authorities.
The investigation was led by the Maui Police Department as part of the ongoing, multiagency Operation Keiki Shield, which aims “to identify, locate and arrest offenders who commit internet-facilitated sexual crimes against children and to identify and rescue child victims of child sexual exploitation and abuse,” an MPD news release said.
Also participating in the Maui investigation as members of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force were the federal Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service and the FBI, along with the state Department of the Attorney General.
Charged with first-degree electronic enticement of a child, with bail set at $150,000 each, were:
>> Finehafo’ou Hafoka, 26, of Kahului, who also was charged with promoting pornography for minors
>> Abdila Oluwatimilehin, 23, of Kihei
>> Jerome Ulep (34), of Kahului
>> Edward Hsu, 49, of Kihei
>> Ryan Kiefer-Fu, 28, of Pinole, Calif.
>> Bruce Mann, 71, of Wailuku
>> Joshua Irvine, 35, of Wailuku
Ulep, Hsu, Mann and Irvine were additionally charged with indecent electronic display to a child.
MPD is continuing to investigate additional criminal offenses in connection with the operation, and the cases were referred to the Maui Department of the Prosecuting Attorney for review, the release said.
During the court of the investigation, a previously unknown child victim of past sexual offenses was identified, with police “working to locate this victim and get social and mental health services to this victim.”
John F. Tobon, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in Honolulu, said the agency and its partners “are committed to providing the necessary resources to get these predators off the streets. Our goal is not only to prosecute the predators, but also to assist the children who are victims of online sexual abuse.”
Maui Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu said, “We will continue to conduct these types of operations in Maui County and throughout the state, as we owe it to the children of our communities to do everything we can to keep them safe.”