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South Jordan, is a city in south central Salt Lake County, Utah. Approximately, 18 miles south of Salt Lake City. As of the 2020 census, there approximately 80,000 people living in South Jordan, a city described as largely suburban. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in this area. For example, in September, 2021, three people were arrested and charged with using Asian massage parlors in Utah County as a front for human trafficking. The three had connections to six massage parlors in several Salt Lake County locaitons where women were forced to perform sex acts with customers in exchange for money, according to charging documents. Two were charged in 3rd District Court with engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity and money laundering, second-degree felonies; exploiting prostitution, a third-degree felony; and two counts of prostitution, a class B misdemeanor. Other charges included aiding prostitution, maintaining a public nuisance, and money laundering. The investigation began earlier that year when the Utah Attorney General’s Statewide Enforcement of Crimes by Undocumented Residents Task Force received a tip from a woman that “she was being forced to engage in commercial sex,” the charges stated. The woman said she agreed to do massages only, but claimed that after taking the job she was forced to perform sex acts. The victims asked to go home, were not allowed to, and requested law enforcement assistance. Undercover agents visited the massage parlors while posing as clients and were offered sexual acts in exchange for money, according to charging documents.
In a separate case in October, 2021, a Salt Lake County man was arrested on multiple felony charges, including aggravated exploitation of prostitution, a second-degree felony; distribution/offer/arrange/distribution of controlled substances, a second-degree felony; two counts of knowingly produce/dispense/manufacture or a controlled substance, a second-degree felony; exploiting prostitution, a third-degree felony, and aiding prostitution, a class A misdemeanor. A probable cause statement filed by the Utah Attorney General’s Office says that a victim met with law enforcement agencies regarding an individual distributing narcotics, specifically heroin, methamphetamine, and other drugs, and that the same man was involved in the exploitation of women within the commercial sex industry and that she was specifically a victim of this individual.
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 2019, five men were arrested in a sting operation led by the South Jordan Police Department. A female detective, posing as a prostituted woman, offered to meet the five men at a local hotel. Upon their arrival, she requested payment in exchange for a sex act. Once the men had agreed, they were arrested and charged with “patronizing a prostitute.”
- South Jordan Police Department
Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- https://kjzz.com/5-men-arrested-at-south-jordan-hotel-in-prostitution-sting (2019)
- https://kmyu.tv/5-men-arrested-at-south-jordan-hotel-in-prostitution-sting (2019)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- “Prostitution Moves Out,” Deseret News, November 17 1971.
- “County Considers Massage Parlor Ordinance,” Deseret News, May 22 1973.
- “Laws vs. Massage Parlor Sex,” Deseret News, May 23 1973.
- “New Massage Law Pays Off,” Deseret News, December 19 1973.
- “Comment: Why a State Law Is Needed on Massage Parlor Sex,” Deseret News, March 22 1974.
- “Organized Crime Seeps into Utah,” Deseret News, November 16 1978.
- “Massage Parlors Fail to Block Law,” Deseret News, November 20 1978.
- “Control Prostitution Here, It Pops up There,” Deseret News, February 3 1982.
- “Hookers Are Difficult to Dislodge,” Deseret News, February 3 1982.
- “Escort Ordinance Aimed at Hindering Prostitution,” Deseret News, December 22 1983.
- “S.L. County Charges 20 with Racketeering and Exploiting Prostitution,” Deseret News, April 9 1985.
- “Prostitution Going Bust as Hookers Land in Jail; Vice Squad: Thanks to Increased Jail Space, Officers Can Now Arrest Women Instead of Just Issuing Citations,” Deseret News, September 20 1990.
- “Prostitutes May Face Time in Jail Tower; S.L. County to Divide 10th Floor of Hall of Justice into Cells,” Deseret News, November 1 1995.
- “7 Massage Parlors Shut Down, 2 Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” Deseret News, June 10 2015.
- “In Trafficking Cases, ‘Ignorance Is Not Bliss’ for Men who Pay for Sex,” CBS/KUTV-TV 2, February 18 2016.
- https://www.sltrib.com/salt-lake-city-motel/ (2020)
- https://www.ksl.com/3-charged-in-prostitution-sting-at-utah-massage-parlors (2021)
- https://gephardtdaily.com/suspects-arrested-human-trafficking-prostitution-6-northern-utah-massage-parlors/ (2021)
- https://gephardtdaily.com/man-faces-5-felony-charges-sexual-exploitation-drug-distribution-salt-lake-county/ (2021)
- https://www.sltrib.com/news/salt-lake-city-it/ (2021)
- https://www.standard.net/3-women-arrested-in-alleged-sex-trafficking-operation-at-massage-parlors/ (2021)
- https://www.ksl.com/bountiful-man-faces-15-charges-in-human-trafficking-drug-distribution-bust (2021)
- https://www.ksl.com/utahn-convicted-in-prostitution-ring-case-charged-paying-teen-for-sex (2022)