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Iron County is a largely rural area of southwest Utah, with a population of about 60,000. Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. In February 2018, law enforcement officials in Iron County arrested seven men accused of arranging to pay to sexually abuse 13-year-old girls. Police said each of the suspects then traveled to a house in northern Iron County, where law enforcement officers arrested those who had arranged to buy sex with what they thought was a minor. The online ads placed by investigators contained a picture of two young females with a phone number and a link to other sites. The suspects contacted the number and exchanged several phone conversations or text messages with the confidential informant. In the conversations, the confidential informant made it clear they would be having sex with one or more 13-year-old children. The suspects agreed to the terms for location, time and payment and requested one or both 13-year-old girls. The names and ages of the men arrested were publicly released. The investigation was a joint operation by Parowan Police Department, Iron County Sheriff’s Office, Iron County Attorney’s Office, Iron/Garfield/Beaver Narcotics Task Force, Homeland Security Investigation, Utah Highway Patrol and Veterans for Child Rescue.
Employment loss in another consequence of buying sex that has occurred in the county. For example, in the aforementioned February, 2018 reverse sting in St. George, according to a probable cause statement in one case, a man allegedly traveled from his residence in Cedar City to St. George to meet with the confidential informant. He paid $100 at the scene in exchange for the sex acts discussed in the text messages. The man served as the treasurer of the Iron County Republican Party for several years, owned a property management firm, and was a prominent real estate developer in the area. The man reportedly resigned from his position with the Iron County GOP soon after his arrest became public.
- Parowan Police Department
- Iron County Sheriff’s Office
- Iron County Attorney’s Office
- Iron/Garfield/Beaver Narcotics Task Force
- Homeland Security Investigation
- Utah Highway Patrol
- Veterans for Child Rescue
Web-Based Reverse Sting and Identity Disclosure:
- Iron County GOP Treasurer arrested in prostitution sting
- Seven men arrested in Iron County for child sex crimes