Sex trafficking is a major concern in southern Utah. Due to its proximity to major cities and its moderate climate, the area is ideal for traffickers’ primary targets, such as the homeless and runaways. Traffickers watch malls, parks, and schools to find their victims, then enslave them by getting the victims addicted to drugs.
Law enforcement say that rotations happen every 7 to 8
months. Young women are trafficked from Las Vegas to St. George, Salt Lake
City, Washington state, California, and then back.
“They [traffickers] think they can make money in St. George
at any given time. They’ll send those young women up here, and they use narcotics
to keep a rope around the women to control them,” said Leo Lucy, Chief of
Investigations at the Utah Attorney General’s Office, during an interview with
ABC 4 News.
Law enforcement is actively investigating human trafficking, and conduct sting operations several times a year.
To report tips regarding human
trafficking, please contact the Utah Attorney General’s Office:
Utah Human Trafficking Tipline:
Internet Crimes Against Children
Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry, and it’s happening right here in Utah. In 2018, the Utah Attorney General’s Office conducted 49 human trafficking investigations, prosecuted 8 cases, and served 44 victims.
Rather than using ropes and chains to confine and control their victims, traffickers use “invisible ropes” involving complex manipulative tactics to control their victims, which can make it difficult to recognize human trafficking.
Assistant Attorney General Dan Strong had the opportunity to visit with Brittany Johnson of ABC 4 News Friday to discuss sex trafficking and the responsibility adults have to protect and help children.
“Adults throughout society, we have a responsibility to children. If we find a child in a desperate situation that’s having a hard time, it’s our responsibility to help that child. The worst thing you can do is see a child in that position and think, “here’s a way I can make a buck.” And that’s what the defendant did in this case,” said Strong.
If you or someone you know is a victim of sex trafficking, report it to Utah law enforcement at 801-200-3443 or to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.
Every year each state in the union gets a grade on their efforts in the fight against human trafficking by Shared Hope International, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending child sex trafficking. Shared Hope does this in a variety of ways, one of which is advocating in each state for stronger legislation that criminalizes the various aspects of human trafficking.
States are graded on the analysis and review of six areas:
Criminalization of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking
Criminal Provisions for Demand (those who buy)
Criminal Provisions for Traffickers (those who sell)
Criminal Provisions for Facilitators (those who help)
Protective Provisions for Child Victims
Criminal Justice Tools for Investigation & Prosecution
Report cards for 2018 were just released and Utah continues to be a leader in the fight against human trafficking. This is due in large part to Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes who is a strong, international voice who speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves.