49-year-old Michael Joe Ricks is suspected of human trafficking multiple women across Utah. He is currently being held in the Salt Lake County Jail and is facing multiple felony drug and prostitution charges.
Investigators say the arrest was months in the making. They first learned about the alleged trafficking when a victim came forward. According to court documents, the victim says Ricks would make them perform sexual acts with people he arranged, and then Ricks would take money for it. The victim says they were threatened if they did not want to perform the acts and Ricks was constantly recruiting more victims.
Assistant chief of investigators at the Utah Attorney General’s Office Nate Mutter says they are confident that “more than 10 victims have been identified” so far. Mutter says they will be connecting all of the identified victims with resources to help them, such as housing, employment, counseling and rehabilitation.
The investigation into Ricks is still ongoing. Mutters says he believes it will lead to more charges.