Sandy, 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

Sandy is a suburb of Salt Lake City, Utah, with a population of approximately 97,000, situated in Salt Lake County. Prostitution has posed considerable problems in the community for decades, generating related cases of sex trafficking and sexual assault. In particular, multiple cases of the violent “forced prostitution” (i.e., sex trafficking”) of minors have been reported. In the mid-1990s, for example, a city resident was sentenced to prison for sexually exploiting two runaway girls, ages 13 and 14, who lived with him at his Sandy residence. The man, 32, reportedly “provided drugs and alcohol to the juveniles on numerous occasions. When they ran out of cocaine, he forced the girls to go to a trailer in Midvale and trade sex for drugs.” One of the men who purchased access to sexually abuse the victims was also arrested and charged with felony rape of a child; his identity was disclosed in the press. According to court records, the “pimp” also sexually assaulted the victims himself and, on at least one occasion, when “one of the girls refused to have sex with him, picked up a baseball bat and started to hit her with it.”

In the spring of 2008, Sandy again drew attention to child sex trafficking when two residents from neighboring South Salt Lake were arrested and charged with “recruiting [women and] underage girls to give erotic massages that ended in sex acts.” The victims were advertised online in the Salt Lake Valley area and included a 15-year-old, two 17-year-olds, and a 24-year-old woman. Officers with the Sandy Police Department became involved in the investigation after receiving an anonymous tip about minors being advertised for prostitution on Craigslist. The following year, a trafficker was arrested after “kidnapping [a] Utah woman at knifepoint in the Salt Lake Valley and forcing her to work as a prostitute.” After kidnapping the woman, the man allegedly “hit her and shocked her with a stun gun to keep her from escaping.” Soon after, he brought her to a Sandy hotel, where he began advertising her “services” online. The victim repeatedly stated that she did not want to prostitute herself but was not allowed to leave. She ultimately escaped a month later from a hotel in nearby Murray. In July 2010, the trafficker was sentenced to 30 months in prison after “pleading guilty to one count of transportation for illegal sexual activity. Charges of kidnapping and sex trafficking were dropped as part of a plea bargain.” In 2013, an article in the Brigham Young University Journal of Public Law reported that five prostitution-related arrests were made in Sandy in 2009, compared to 485 arrests in Salt Lake City and 46 in nearby Layton.

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. For example, in 2002, SPD officers shadowed their SLCPD peers during a street-level reverse sting. A female SPD officer also volunteered to work undercover as a decoy during the Salt Lake City operation. At that time, a SPD representative commented to the Deseret News:

“[Street prostitution] is not something we’re getting continual calls on, but we are just trying to prepare for some of the issues that are bound to happen. We’re just kind of trying to jump on it before it gets here.”

In June, 2022, the Utah Attorney General’s SECURE Task Force, assisted by the Sandy and Taylorsville Police Departments, arrested and charged a 19-year-old man with seven felonies, with including: Two counts of Human Trafficking of a Child; two counts of Sodomy on a Child; two counts of Sexual Abuse of a Child; and one count of Enticing a Minor. A probable cause statement cites two underage victims, who say the man solicited for sex in exchange for marijuana and/or nicotine vape cartridges.  The information stated the man used social media to solicit the young girls, often posing as a 15-year-old, and often sending explicit pictures (i.e., child sexual abuse materials, or CSAM).  Many account holders on message threads on the account indicated they were between 11 and 15 years old. The man was arrested at his Sandy apartment, and was believed to have been involved in a recent attempted kidnapping of two minor children in Sandy.  He was initially held without bail at the Salt Lake County Jail.

Key Partners

  • Sandy Police Department
  • Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office
  • Utah Attorney General’s SECURE Task Force
  • Salt Lake City Police Department
  • Taylorsville Police Department

Key Sources

Shadowing of Salt Lake City Police, Use of Female Officers from Sandy Police Department in SLC Reverse Stings:

Identity Disclosure, Child Sexual Abuse/Trafficking:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Utah
Type City
Population 96904
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