LEHI (ABC4 News) – An extensive sex trafficking sting operation in Utah County has resulted in dozens of arrests and the employees of a software company made it all happen.
The Adobe Foundation donated money which provided a grant that the Utah County Sheriff’s Department, the Lehi Police Department, and Operation Underground Railroad used to bust pimps, johns, and pedophiles.
An online ad was the bait in an undercover sting that netted shocking results: 41 arrests including alleged pimp 51-year-old David Moss, the bishop of his LDS Ward in Lehi and a former St. George police officer and 29-year-old Richard Martin of Riverton who police say tried to arrange encounters with a 12 and a 6-year-old girl and had graphic child pornography on his cellphone.
Veteran Sergeant Spencer Cannon of the Utah County Sheriff’s Department told ABC4 News he was taken aback by the images.
“As long as I’ve been in this there are some things that still shock me,” Sgt. Cannon said. “The fact that some of the videos were downloaded were depicting extremely graphic child sex abuse, rape of very very young children. As young as 1 year old, that is very disturbing and despite the fact that I know it’s there it still surprises me when I see that someone would stoop to that level of depravity.”
The operation was supported through the Adobe Foundation’s Employee Community Fund with the money going to overtime, recording equipment plus houses and hotel rooms where they made the arrests.
Sgt. Cannon says these types of sex crimes are all too common in Utah Valley.
“These people were arrested because they thought they were contacting prostitutes or a woman with children she was trying to sell into that kind of service or they’re contacting real people. There are things that happen out there all the time,” he said. “In sweet little ole Utah County we’ve got a problem with it and we’re doing everything we can to get a better handle on it.”
The 41 arrests have resulted in numerous charges and the total could go up because Sgt. Cannon says the investigation is still going on and more undercover stings are planned.