SALT LAKE CITY February 23, 2017 – In cooperation with local and national law enforcement agencies today, the Utah Attorney General’s Office (AGO) announced in a press conference the arrests of a number of individuals on human trafficking and child sex exploitation charges. The following contains information on the arrests, as well as cases studies and follow-up information on questions asked during the conference. The arrests are related to cases where victims of human trafficking were trafficked inside Utah. Some cases involved minors and some crossed state lines. As a result of the multi-agency action, involving 25 agencies, there were 16 arrests including two prior sex offenders and one parolee, and three children were rescued.
The Utah Attorney General’s office does not handle every case where a child is alleged to have been involved in sex trafficking. Cases are investigated and referred to other prosecutor’s offices throughout the state in the jurisdictions where the case arose. For various reasons, the Utah AGO cannot give the number of investigations, prosecutions, or convictions that would accurately convey the breadth of this crime throughout the state.
The Utah AGO office possesses the specific training, expertise, and resources needed for addressing human trafficking that allows the AGO to devote the time and attention needed to build these complicated cases. For this reason, many but not all of these cases are referred to the AGO for help. Some of the Sexual Exploitation of Minor cases involved the manufacturing of child pornography. Several of the suspects traveled across the state and state line to sexually abuse children.
Some of the Sexual Exploitation of Minor cases involved the manufacturing of child pornography. Several of the suspects traveled across the state and state line to sexually abuse children.
Charges filed include:
- Rape of a Child (1st Degree Felony)
- Sexual Exploitation of a Minor (2nd Degree Felony)
- Enticing a Minor over the Internet (2nd Degree Felony)
- Dealing in Harmful Material to a Child (3rd Degree Felony)
- Failure to Register as a Sex Offender (3rd Degree Felony)
- Criminal Charges (cont.)
- Criminal Conspiracy (3rd Degree Felony)
- Possession of Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute (2rd
- Degree Felony)
- Multiple other A and B Misdemeanors
Most cases had multiple counts of the same charge.
Partner agencies in the arrests include:
- Adult Probation and Parole
- Bountiful Police Department
- Clearfield Police Department
- Davis County Sheriff’s Office
- Department of Public Safety
- Enforcement and Removal Operations
- Heber City Police Department
- Homeland Security Investigations
- Ogden Police Department
- Orem City Police Department
- Park City Police Department
- Pleasant Grove Police Department
- Provo City Police Department
- Sevier County Sheriff’s Office
- South Salt Lake City Police Department
- Summit County Sheriff’s Office
- Syracuse Police Department
- Tooele City Police Department
- Unified Police Department
- United States Marshal’s Office
- Utah County Attorney’s Office
- Utah County Sheriff’s Office
- Vernal Police Department
- Weber County Sheriff’s Office
The prosecuting agencies were the Utah Attorney General’s Office and the Utah County Attorney’s Office.
Cases where trafficking of a child may not result in charges for human trafficking
There are a few reasons why cases where children were trafficked for sex may not result in charges for human trafficking of a child:
- Human Trafficking of a Child is a new area of criminal justice. It was only added to the Utah criminal code in 2015. In the old model of viewing these cases, many times the child being sex trafficked was arrested for prostitution and adjudicated delinquent in the juvenile justice system. Only in the last year did Utah pass a “safe harbor” provision for children engaged in the sex trade that clarifies they should be treated as victims and referred to services.
- While the safe harbor provision has helped protect child victims of sex trafficking from improper criminal charges, the criminal justice field at large still has a long way to go in shifting from viewing this crime into a human trafficking lens. In some jurisdictions, these cases are still investigated through the lens of prostitution and not human trafficking. Sometimes suspects are charged with exploiting prostitution even in cases where children were sex trafficked.
- Another component of the safe harbor philosophy is that we should avoid re-victimizing those preyed on by sex traffickers by pressuring them to participate in the criminal justice process. In our office, we often prosecute defendants who we have reason to believe are traffickers with other related offenses, either because the victim does not want to participate in our criminal case or to protect them from having to do so if we can secure justice through other charges.
Case studies and updates on previous human trafficking arrests
Among the cases reported on today is the AGO’s prosecution of William Piol Makuei: Mauei was charged with three counts of 1st Degree Felony Rape of a Child after his DNA was found to match the newborn child of a girl who was impregnated before she turned 14. He later admitted to having sex with the child victim. This case arose from a human trafficking tip and ensuing investigation
The following two cases were not included in today’s briefing, but are provided here as updates to arrests previous reported.
- Charles Daryl Kelley: Kelley was convicted in July 2016 of Attempted Human Trafficking of a Child, after he attempted to recruit a 15-year-old girl into a commercial sex operation he was running out of a motel in Midvale.
- Quinlen Nathaniel Atkinson: Last April, Mr. Atkinson was charged with 1st Degree Felony Human Trafficking of a Child, 1st Degree Felony Aggravated Exploitation of Prostitution Involving a Child, and several other felony charges based on allegations that he was running a commercial sex operation from Ogden to Idaho and Southern Utah. Both girls he is accused of manipulating into joining his operation were high school students. At the time of the known offenses, one of the girls had recently turned 18 and the other was 17 years old. This case is awaiting trial in Weber County.
Tip Line Numbers
Individuals with tips are encouraged to contact the Utah Attorney General’s tip lines:
The PowerPoint Presentation utilized at the press conference is embedded below.