Weber County, Utah is the state’s fourth-most populous county, most living in the city of Ogden, the home of Weber State University. Police have investigated child sex trafficking rings operating within the county (e.g., in Ogden, Riverdale, West Haven), local prostitution involving adults has been widespread, and there have been cases of homicides of prostituted women. For example, in April 2017, a couple was arrested after an investigation found they were running a prostitution ring out of an Ogden home, which eventually was found to involve human trafficking: force, fraud and coercion were used to manipulate individuals to engage in prostitution. One victim was at the home for nearly two years, and the couple assaulted her and held her against her will. She had tried to escape, but the traffickers held and physically assaulted the victim repeatedly, and then cut off her hair. Witnesses also reported the defendants would beat up some of the girls to keep others in line. The traffickers were were booked into the Weber County Jail and each charged with four counts of human trafficking for forced sexual exploitation, four counts of aggravated exploitation of prostitution, aggravated kidnapping, and several other charges. In December 2017 a 25-year-old man plead guilty to human trafficking, for recruiting girls aged 17 and 18 in Weber County and taking them to Nevada and Idaho for prostitution. In February 2018 Unified Police raided a message parlor in Mill Creek and arrested two women on suspicion of prostitution, and detectives found advertisements for commercial sex associated with the massage parlor.
To combat consumer-level demand, police conduct periodic reverse stings. Unified Police Department investigators have collaborated with municipal, state, and federal agencies to conducted web-based reversals. In one web operation, police received 150 replies to a decoy web posting, and six of the men arrived at a location provided by police and were arrested when the offered to pay for sex. In February 2018, Federal agents in Weber County arrested a man they say targeted an underage boy for sex in an online undercover operation organized to capture predators targeting children in Utah. A Homeland Security agent from the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force began communicating with an adult male on social media, and the agent’s online undercover profile was a 13-year-old boy. Through the course of the online conversation, the 55 year old man arranged to travel to a location in Ogden to meet with who he believed to be an underage boy for illicit purposes.
In July, 2019, three men were arrested in Weber County during a sex trafficking sting. Detectives set up at a local hotel and contacted people who offered services of a sexual nature on a website. the three men were arrested when they appeared to complete the transactions, and were booked into the Weber County Jail for soliciting prostitution. The photos and names of the men were included in news releases. One juvenile girl was identified as a user of the sexually oriented websites. According to the Weber County Sheriff’s Office, the girl and her family were contacted and services were provided to them.
In December, 2020, eighteen individuals were arrested and charged after responding to online ads and then meeting with undercover detectives at a local motel to exchange money for sexual acts. Those arrested had their photos and identifiers released to the public, and faced charges including patronizing a prostitute, solicitation of a prostitute, prostitution, and possession of a controlled substance.
- Weber County Sheriff’s Office
- Unified Police Department
- Ogden Police Department
- Utah Attorney General’s Office
- Weber County Jail
- Brothel Raids Resulting in John Arrests:
- Street-Level Reverse Stings:
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 6 ‘Customers’”, Ogden Standard-Examiner, May 18 2003.
- “Prostitution Sting; Ogden Police Find People from All Walks of Life Involved”, Ogden Standard-Examiner, April 1 2005.
- “Prostitution with Escort Services; Layton, Ogden Police Target Problem with Sting Operations”, Ogden Standard-Examiner, November 24 2007.
- “Killings Spur Ogden Crackdown on Sex Trade”, Ogden Standard-Examiner, August 16 2008.
- “Ogden Prostitution Sting Operation Tricks for Treat Nets 11 Arrests”, Ogden Standard-Examiner, October 24 2009.
- “Police Sting in Ogden Successful”, ABC/KTVX-TV 4, October 25 2009.
- “Ogden Police Nab 13 in Prostitute Stings”, Deseret News, November 1 2009.
- “Four Arrests Made in Prostitution Sting”, Ogden Standard-Examiner, March 17 2011.
- Web-Based Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- “6 Men Nabbed in Net Sex Sting”, Deseret News, March 16 2008.
- https://kutv.com/3-men-arrested-in-weber-county-in-prostitution-solicitation-sting (2019)
- https://www.standard.net/police-fire/prostitution-solicitation-sting-in-weber-county-nets-misdemeanor-arrests (2019)
- https://gephardtdaily.com/local/3-men-booked-into-weber-county-jail-on-solicitation-of-prostitution/ (2019)
- https://www.ksl.com/not-a-victimless-crime-18-arrested-in-weber-county-prostitution-sting (2020)
- https://www.standard.net/police-fire/18-arrested-in-weber-county-prostitution-sting (2020)
- Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: