LOCAL NEWS

Multiple Arrests Made After Alleged Human Trafficking At Utah County Massage Parlors

Feb 5, 2021, 3:00 PM | Updated: 8:10 pm

AMERICAN FORK, Utah – Authorities have executed multiple warrants in connection to alleged human trafficking and prostitution at several massage parlors in Utah County.

According to arresting documents, police executed warrants Thursday at businesses in American Fork and Orem. Six people were arrested.

The affidavits stated that detectives have been investigating following an anonymous online tip in September 2020 that alleged employees at a new “Asian” massage parlor in American Fork had been performing sexual acts on customers.

“Throughout the investigation, we were able to determine that at least one victim of human trafficking was involved in this that we were able to remove from the situation and get some resources and some help,” said Lt. Josh Christensen with the American Fork Police Department.

Christensen added the victim didn’t know where she was and didn’t know anybody in the area.

Officers conducted undercover operations at Sunflower Massage, Relax Wood LLC, Magic Massage and Small Rainbow.

“At the undercover operations the Asian female masseurs solicited sexual activities in exchange for money,” according to arresting documents. “This was denied by undercover officers.”

Through a translator, one of the women said she was being forced to stay in the massage parlor, where she slept and ate, and was not allowed to go anywhere without the consent of the “boss,” the affidavit stated. She said she didn’t know who the “boss” was.

Authorities also arrested a man, identified as Joseph Edward Ferreri, who they say was seen transporting at least two of the women in a vehicle.

Ferreri reportedly told officers that one of the women was his wife, and he was taking her to and from work each day — and that on days when he didn’t pick her up, she slept at the massage parlor.

“These Asian females fall into a world of human trafficking and become victims in their own right,” the affidavit stated. “In the Asian culture, family honor is among the highest level of priority to these Asian female victims. The criminal organizations often threaten to contact their families and provide them with information of voluntary prostitution occurring in the United States, which is unwanted by the female victims.”

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Multiple Arrests Made After Alleged Human Trafficking At Utah County Massage Parlors