UTAH COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 News) – A former St. George Police Department lieutenant and another man were arrested in an undercover human trafficking investigation in Utah County.
On Valentine’s Day detectives with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, Special Victims Task Force, and detectives with Lehi Police Department conducted undercover operations aimed at targeting human trafficking, officials say.
Investigators targeted 51-year-old David N. Moss, the former police lieutenant, and Vice Squad supervisor, and 29-year-old Richard Michael Martin.
Two undercover detectives established separate social media contact with Moss who used the name “Pilot” online, officials say.
During conversations with the undercover detectives, who Moss believed to be sex workers, he described that he could “manage” them, not as a “pimp”, but to help them avoid getting caught, documents state.
Utah County Sheriff’s Office says Moss described how he could protect them, help them avoid police, and that he would “take care of booking” and they would “entertain”.
Police say Moss told them he had “run” other girls when they asked if he had previous experience managing. Undercover detectives sent photos to Moss after which they discussed prices and arranged to meet at a location in Utah County, authorities say.
During this meeting, Moss showed the undercover detectives money and said, “I am not opposed to paying.”, police say. Documents state during this part of the conversation, Moss grabbed the hand of one of the detectives and forcibly put it on his genitals over his pants, he then unzipped his pants and exposed his genitals.
Detectives followed up on evidence they had collected, and on February 19th, Moss was arrested at his home in Lehi.
During an interview after he was arrested, Moss admitted most of the information he discussed with the undercover detectives, authorities say. He denied, however, ever having any involvement “managing” other girls.
Moss was booked into the Utah County Jail on the following charges: Exploiting a prostitute, 3rd-degree felony; patronizing a prostitute, class A misdemeanor; sexual battery, class A misdemeanor; and two counts of lewdness, class B misdemeanor. Bail for Moss has been set at $10,260.00 cash or bond.
Detectives say Moss may have other victims they were not aware of. Moss resigned his employment as a lieutenant with St. George Police Department, where he supervised the Vice Squad, a department or division of a police force that enforces laws against prostitution, drug abuse, illegal gambling, and would have had contact with vulnerable individuals who could easily be exploited.
Officials said Moss has also recently served as a leader of a local religious congregation, which allowed him to contact vulnerable individuals who could be exploited. Because he told the undercover detectives he had “run” other girls, they ask that anyone who may have had involvement of this nature with Moss to contact investigators with Utah.
Officials from the same team busted another man with similar offenses.
An official statement released by Utah County states that detectives working undercover in previous cases established social media contact with a suspect in May of 2016. He was later identified as Richard Michael Martin of Riverton.
Authorities believed Martin was communicating with a 13-year-old girl he described wanting to engage in sexual intercourse and oral sex with, but they were never able to arrange a meeting with him.
Fast-forward three years, and on February 12, 2019, undercover detectives again established social media contact with Martin.
Utah County Sheriff’s Office says Martin believed he was talking to a woman who was the mother of 12 and 6-year-old girls. Martin described wanting to engage in sexual intercourse and oral sex with the 12-year-old and oral sex and digital penetration with the 6-year-old. He also said wanted the 12 and 6-year-old to perform oral sex on him, officials say.
Martin arranged to meet the undercover detective at a location in Utah County on February 14th. During the meeting officials say they found Martin in possession of video recordings of extremely graphic child pornography involving very young children and infants. Investigators say he also admitted his desired actions with the minors.
Detectives investigating this case say they will refer portions of their investigation for federal charges because of the nature of the quantity of the material.
Martin was booked into the Utah County Jail on nine 2nd degree felony counts of enticing a minor by internet or text. He is being held on $30,000.00 cash or bond. Martin has a previous arrest for similar charges in Kentucky in 2009, police say.
To report tips regarding human trafficking, please contact the Utah Attorney General’s Office:
Utah Human Trafficking Tipline: 801-200-3443
Internet Crimes Against Children Tipline: 801-281-1211