Quantcast

St. George prostitution sting uncovered alleged human trafficking

Published August 27, 2013 9:32 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A prostitution bust in St. George has since been found to be part of a human trafficking operation out of Las Vegas that victimized a 17-year-old girl.

On Friday, St. George police working with Homeland Security Investigations and the Washington County Sheriff's Office netted several suspects in a vice sting operation. Police originally announced that a 17-year-old girl was among the people arrested in the sting, but on Tuesday, police said the girl was actually a victim who had been forced into prostitution by Leroy Haley and Francis Uhrhan.

Haley and Uhrhan, along with two suspected johns, were arrested after the sting. All four were charged Monday in 5th District Court.

Police say Haley, 30, and Uhrhan, 20, both of Las Vegas, had brought the girl from out of state and that the group travelled throughout Utah in a prostitution circuit.

According to charging documents, Haley and Uhrhan acted as pimps to the 17-year-old. An undercover vice detective arranged to meet with Uhrhan and the 17-year-old after their suspected prostitution acts were advertised online under the guise of massage services.

The meeting took place in a St. George motel room and officers swarmed the location after they confirmed that the two were offering sex for money. Uhrhan was arrested, and the 17-year-old was interviewed as a victim. The teen was later taken to a crisis center and released to her legal guardians on Friday, police said.

Uhrhan allegedly told police that she was the only one of the two who would get paid while the girl was required to "pay back" whatever money she took in, according to court documents. Uhrhan also told police that they had worked as prostitutes in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, charging documents state.

Uhrhan was charged with second-degree felony counts of human trafficking and exploiting a prostitute, along with misdemeanor counts of prostitution and running an unlawful massage practice. She and Haley remained in jail Tuesday on a $100,000 cash-only bond.

The two allegedly answered to Haley, who police say drove the two to appointments and collected their money — all while physically assaulting them and forcing them to work.

After interviewing Uhrhan and the girl, police tracked Haley to a hotel in St. George, where he was arrested. He allegedly acted belligerent and kicked at officers, but refused to be interviewed by police.

Haley has been charged with second-degree felony counts of human trafficking and exploiting a prostitute, two third-degree felony counts of assault by a prisoner and misdemeanor counts of interfering with an arresting officer and disorderly conduct.

In addition to the alleged prostitution and human trafficking offenses, police found large quantities of drugs in the motel room that suggested Haley and Uhrhan had been distributing marijuana, hydrocodone pills and ecstasy, but charges on those offenses had not been filed as of Tuesday.

kbennion@sltrib.com

Twitter: @KimballBennion