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13 men allegedly preying on kids on Oahu arrested

Police lights. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Thirteen men, between the ages of 22 and 61, were arrested on Oahu over the weekend as part of the ongoing Operation Keiki Shield effort, through which a federal, state and county law enforcement task force aims to track down adults who prey on children.

During a news conference Wednesday at the Honolulu Police Department’s headquarters, Chief Arthur “Joe ” Logan said nine of the men arrested were charged at the state level with commercial sexual exploitation of a minor or electronic enticement of a child in the first degree. Both are Class B felonies punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Each of the other four men, three active-duty Army members and one Marine, faces a charge of attempted sexual abuse of a child under article 80 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Punishment for the crime varies according to the circumstances, but is similar to the state penalties, officials said.

Logan said all of the suspects have local addresses and were either arrested by HPD or the military. “This week’s arrests confirm what we in law enforcement know too well, ” he said. “That there are many individuals who will seek out and prey on the most vulnerable in our community, our keiki.”

Justin Joshua Serrano Eugenio, Kristian Goodwin, Jefferson Manuales Ibalio, Darryl K.F. Fong, Benedict Gomez, Jose De Jesus Castillo and Gregory Dane Oniate were all arrested and charged with commercial sexual exploitation of a minor after they each allegedly offered an undercover law enforcement officer either $150, $200, or $250 in exchange for sex acts, according to state court records. Bail for the men ranges between $15, 000 and $25, 000.

Charles S. Tothina and Arjay Aranda Baniaga, aka “R.J., ” were arrested and charged with electronic enticement of a child in the first degree. Both men had bail set at $15, 000.

U.S. Army soldiers Shelton Keith, Jeff Harmon and Devin Eddy were arrested by Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division agents and charged with attempted sexual abuse of a child, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. A U.S. Marine was arrested by agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service but his name is pending release by the U.S. Department of the Navy.

Hawaii’s Internet Crime Against Children Task Force is part of a national network of 61 coordinated task forces, representing over 5, 400 federal, state and local law enforcement officers “dedicated to investigating, prosecuting and developing effective responses to internet crimes against children, ” according to the national ICAC website.

Since 2019, about 93 people have been arrested in Hawaii because of task force’s efforts. In addition to the Honolulu, Maui, Hawaii and Kauai County police departments, the task force includes the state Department of the Attorney General, Homeland Security Investigations, the Department of Army Criminal Investigation Division, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and Secret Service.

Edward Arias, Internet Crime Against Children Task Force commander, said most of the “bad guys use technology ” including computers, mobile phones, social media apps like TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram and dating apps..

Arias, a former FBI agent, said given that children are using these apps, “It’s important to have good communication between parent and child—because the bad guys realize that all these kids are online, and that’s where they go looking for them.”

Posing as kids, police and federal agents engaged the men arrested online, continuing conversations to the point that meetings were set up between the men and the agents, who they thought were children.

“In this operation, who they are actually meeting with is a police officer or a federal agent, ” said Arias. “Their intention was to meet with a minor all the way up until the handcuffs went on. Unbeknownst to them they were not talking to a 13-year-old girl. They were talking to a police officer. I want to put the message out to all the predators out there. When you’re online and you think you’re talking to a child, you’re probably talking to one of us.”

Logan urged parents and the family members of minors to keep a close eye on the online activities of their children, and to contact Honolulu police or any of the task force members regarding suspected predatory activity.

“As always we ask the parents and family members, watch out for your young people in your families, ” said Logan. “Please check what they are doing on the computers and on their phones. Ask who their friends are, where they are going and what they’re doing. You’re not being nosy or intrusive you’re being careful and caring.”


(c) 2023 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser

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