Investigators arrested 26 people who were involved in human trafficking dealings during a three-day undercover operation last week in Lehi.
The Utah County Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit, the Lehi Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security Investigators partnered with Operation Underground Railroad to conduct a human trafficking operation.
A total of 26 people were arrested, including many individuals who reportedly agreed to sexually assault children under the age of 18, according to a press release from the sheriff’s office.
The operation also rescued several victims of human trafficking and officials are currently offering aid and assistance to them.
At least three individuals were arrested under investigation of exploiting a prostitute, or the role of acting as a pimp. Other individuals were reportedly under investigation for drug activity in addition to human trafficking.
Shane Smith, 26, of Murray, started chatting with an undercover agent he believed to be a 13-year-old girl. He reportedly planned to drive her to California and pay her $200 for sexual acts, a police probable cause report stated.
He was arrested at an arranged meeting place and booked into jail for enticement of a minor, exploitation of a minor and attempted aggravated kidnapping of a minor. At the time, he was also on pre-trial release on a previous arrest in Salt Lake County for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
“It is important to recognize that these arrests came from a three-day human trafficking sting operation, in one small area, in one county in Utah,” the press release stated.
The Unified Police Department, the Salt Lake City Police Department and the Provo Police Department also assisted in the operation that lasted from Nov. 19-21.