Kauai News

No Confirmed Reports of Sex Trafficking Incidents, KPD Says

By Tiffany DeMasters

Posted June 22, 2020, 4:48 PM HST

Kaua‘i Police Department has received no reports of a group of individuals on island capturing girls and women to use for sex trafficking, officials iterated Monday.

Authorities took to Facebook to address a growing concern of sex traffickers on the Garden Island. KPD’s Investigative Services Bureau Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce stated in an email a social media post began circulated last week where the individual stated they received information that a mafia group was on Kaua‘i kidnapping girls between the ages of 16-40 for sex trafficking.

The post also indicated the mafia group was marking the back of people’s cars with blue painter’s tape or zip ties.

“We can confirm that we do not have any reported incidents or knowledge of incidents like this occurring on Kaua‘i,” KPD stated in its Facebook post.

Ponce added KPD’s social media post Monday was made to dispel rumors and to ask people to make official reports to the police if they experience any criminal activities.

Additionally, Ponce said, Kaua‘i County does not have an issue with runaways or missing children at this time.

“However, it is always a point of concern anytime cases like this are reported,” he said. “We have not had any cases of missing children this year.”

Ponce said the county has had 45 cases of juvenile runaways since January, which is not above average.

“These juveniles are considered to be runaways and not missing children due to specific circumstances, such as prior interactions with police and/or family conflicts,” Ponce explained.

Ponce said police can’t say for sure where this heightened concern of sex trafficking stems from.

“It could have originated from rumors circulating on social media after arrests were made of the alleged cult group on the Big Island,” Ponce said.

Twenty-one members of a group known as Carbon Nation were sent back to the mainland after violating Gov. David Ige’s order of 14-day quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was Hawai‘i Island residents that first observed the group’s presence on the east side of the island and put information out on social media and reported it to police.

Ponce said it would be naïve for any law enforcement agency in this day and age to say that sex/human trafficking does not exist or ever existed in their jurisdiction.

“However, that being said, whenever KPD is notified or discovers any case of human/sex trafficking, KPD takes it very seriously and does its best to promptly mitigate and curtail these illegal activities,” he said.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Kauai Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat. Tiffany is an award-winning journalist, receiving recognition from the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists. Tiffany grew up on the Big Island and is passionate about telling the community’s stories.
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