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Operation Keiki Shield nets 10 men, police report

WAILUKU — Ten men who allegedly used the internet to solicit someone they believed was a minor for sex were arrested this month in Kihei as part of Operation Keiki Shield, police said.

The state Department of the Attorney General Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force heads the operation to identify, locate and arrest offenders who commit internet-facilitated sexual crimes against children and to identify and rescue child victims of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Police said the 10 men arrested from March 13 to 15 took steps to meet with the person they believed was a minor to engage in sexual acts.

“However, instead of minors, these offenders were actually met and arrested by law enforcement officers,” police said in a news release Monday.

“The online sexual exploitation of young children and teenagers alike in our community is happening and is a real threat,” the news release said. “The offenders come from all different walks of life and all different backgrounds. The only commonality is the lasting emotional and physical damage that they do to our children.”

During court hearings Tuesday, two of the men pleaded not guilty and had June 8 trials set when they appeared by videoconference from Maui Community Correctional Center.

Deputy Public Defender Zach Raidmae asked for bail of $100,000 each to be reduced for Joseph Montelongo, 34, of Haiku and Jason Guthrie, 37, of Kihei. Each is charged with first-degree electronic enticement of a child, a felony offense carrying a penalty of up to 10 years.

Montelongo’s only prior conviction was in 2005 for selling liquor to a minor in “maybe one of those sting operations, ironically enough,” Raidmae said.

He said Guthrie was found not to be criminally responsible because of mental health issues in a 2015 case but ended up pleading no contest to reduced misdemeanor charges.

The prosecution opposed any reduction in bail.

Second Circuit Judge Peter Cahill reduced bail to $25,000 for Montelongo and to $30,000 for Guthrie. If they post bail to be released, both men were ordered to call the Maui Intake Service Center to be supervised within seven days and to have no contact with anyone under age 18. Montelongo and Guthrie also were ordered not to use dating or social apps or websites.

In addition to Maui Police Department officers, officers from the Kauai Police Department, state Department of the Attorney General, federal Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Secret Service participated in the operation.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.

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