After more than a year on the run, a Hawaii pimp who was found guilty in one of Honolulu’s most high-profile prostitution cases has been caught.

U.S. Marshals arrested Joseph Vaimili, 29, on Tuesday morning at a home in a north Houston suburb.

Vaimili faced trial in July 2010 for promoting prostitution, terroristic threatening, using a firearm and two counts of kidnapping. But he fled town on the day of opening arguments. Because the trial had already begun, the judge ordered the trial to continue without him. He was convicted in absentia of all counts and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

A Crimestoppers tip helped lead U.S. Marshals to Vaimili, who was staying in a two-story house with a topless dancer, officials said.

According to Deputy U.S. Marshal Alfredo Perez, a team of eight marshals along with backup from Harris County sheriffs made the arrest.

Vaimili, who is 6’6″ and 270 pounds, was on the second floor and would not come to the door when the marshals arrived.

“He opened a window. He looked around — looking at options of escaping,” Perez said. “He saw the canine officer with us and officers ordering him to go back inside with his hands up.”

“He was looking to see if he could grab something maybe to fight with,” Perez said. “You could see the wheels in his head were definitely turning to see how he could get out of this situation.”

Honolulu officials said they were told about the arrest this morning.

“Our office was notified that Vaimili was picked up and is seeking to have him extradited to face sentencing,” Honolulu Prosecutor’s spokesman Dave Koga told Civil Beat in an email.

Vaimili is being housed in the Harris County Jail and will appear before a judge Wednesday where he’ll have the option to fight his extradition to Hawaii.

The case was significant for its violence and because the victim was willing to take the stand.

The chief witness in the case was a 24-year-old woman who told jurors she was repeatedly beaten by Vaimili and forced to work as a prostitute in Waikiki. Vaimili once broke a hotel-room lamp by smashing it against her skull.

Shortly after meeting Vaimili at a Waikiki club, the victim said Vaimili beat her unconscious, dragged her down a Waikiki alleyway and forced her to work “the track,” a prostitution route down Kuhio Avenue. She gave him everything she earned.

About the Author