Two arrests described in a release yesterday were part of a longer overall effort at finding victims of human trafficking. Numerous arrests have been made.
*** PRESS RELEASE *** February 21, 2019: Over the past several years Detectives with the Utah County Sheriff's Office Special Victims Unit have encountered increasing numbers of cases of human trafficking and sex trafficking. They have tried to give this problem more attention, but they must still work their regular caseloads. Around February 2018, Homeland Security Investigations submitted a grant request to the Adobe Foundation in Lehi. This Foundation has Action Teams at Adobe Corporate Locations where employees decide where grant funds will be focused in local communities. In this case the grant was approved, and, through Operation Underground Railroad, the Utah County Sheriff's Office received funding for equipment, training, and operational expenses incurred while conducting undercover human trafficking operations.
In July 2018 Detectives with the Utah County Sheriff's Office and Lehi Police conducted an undercover operation. In this operation 18 different people responded to an ad placed in a social media platform, arranging to meet what they believed to be prostitutes. Charges included prostitution, a class B misdemeanor, and patronizing a prostitute, a class A misdemeanor. Those charged with patronizing a prostitute were arrested and booked into the Utah County Jail. Those charged with prostitution received a citation and were released. During this operation in July Detectives identified a 16-year-old Utah County juvenile who was a victim of human trafficking. That juvenile is currently with family and is receiving appropriate services.
In January 2019 Detectives with the Utah County Sheriff's Office Special Victims Unit requested and received additional grant funding. Around February 14, 2019, with Detectives from Lehi Police Department, they conducted another undercover operation aimed at uncovering human trafficking operations. During that operation 23 people were arrested or received citations. Two suspects in this operation, Richard Michael Martin, age 29, of Riverton, and David N. Moss, age 51, of Lehi, were identified yesterday in a release from the Utah County Sheriff's Office. Martin was booked into jail on 9 counts of enticing a minor over the internet, all 2nd degree felonies. He is also being investigated for charges related to possessing child pornography. Moss was booked into jail on charges of exploiting a prostitute, a 3rd degree felony, and misdemeanor charges of sexual battery, patronizing a prostitute, and two counts of lewdness. Others charged in this case were booked into jail if they were charged with patronizing a prostitute, or they were released with a citation if they were charged with prostitution.
Much of the evidence in these cases was collected using equipment and training paid for with funds received from the Adobe Foundation Grant. Officials with the Utah County Sheriff's Office said many, if not all, of the arrests in these cases, 41 people total, would not have happened were it not for this funding. Day to day operations of the Special Victims Task Force do not include funding to regularly conduct detailed undercover operations such as these. The Adobe Foundation and the Employee Action Teams at Adobe were crucial elements in Utah County Sheriff's Office and Lehi Police Department being able to take these small steps toward eliminating human trafficking in our communities. Pictured in the photos are, from left to right, Jon Lines, President of Operations - Operation Underground Railroad; Sheriff Mike Smith, Utah County Sheriff; Undersheriff Shaun Bufton; Chief Deputy Mike Brower; and Lieutenant Erik Knutzen.
For questions contact Sergeant Spencer Cannon, Public Information Officer, Utah County Sheriff’s Office. (801)404-1912. Twitter: @SGTCannonPIO or @UCSO