Paragonah, UT

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Paragonah is a town of approximately 500 residents in Iron County, Utah. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity has been well-documented in the town, surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking.

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. To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, reverse stings have been conducted. For example, in February 2018, six men were arrested in Paragonah during a web-based reverse sting targeting child predators. All six suspects arranged to have sex with 13-year-old girls in exchange for money. The operation used a confidential informant to place an ad on websites known to produce child trafficking activities and child predators. The ad used in the sting had a picture of two young girls, with a phone number and a link to other sites. The suspects all traveled to Paragonah, where they met with a confidential informant and agreed to have sex with one or more 13-year-old girls. Money was exchanged, and conversations had with the suspects laid out ground rules and confirmation of the sex acts to be performed. The suspects contacted the phone number and had several conversations via phone call and text messaging. The conversations made it clear that they would be having sex with one or more 13-year-old girls. The suspects all agreed to the terms for location, time, and payment. The suspects called the number to say they were on their way from different locations to a house in Northern Iron County. When they arrived at the off ramp, the suspects called the informant who stayed on the phone to guide them to the residence. By this time, the suspects had already negotiated to pay for sex with one or both of the 13-year-old girls. As soon as the elements of the crimes were confirmed, law enforcement officers moved in to make the arrest. The names, ages, and other information identifying the sex buyers were included in news releases. The joint criminal operation was conducted by the Parowan Police Department, working with law enforcement agencies from Iron, Garfield, and Beaver counties.

Key Partners

  • Parowan
  • Iron County Sheriff’s Office
  • Garfield County Sheriff’s Office
  • Beaver County Sheriff’s Office
  • Iron County Attorney’s Office
  • Iron/Garfield/Beaver Narcotics Task Force
  • Homeland Security Investigation
  • Utah Highway Patrol
State Utah
Type City
Population 536
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