The Reiki Massage Parlor in Salt Lake City was raided in 2012. The Utah Attorney General’s Office said they found underage women, as young as 17, forced into prostitution.
On Thursday, a judge announced the parlor owner, 29-year-old Luis Daniel Arano-Hernandez, will stand trial on charges involving aggravated human trafficking, prostitution, and identity theft.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Kirk Torgensen said the case is an eye opener about human trafficking.
“This is in our own backyard,” he said. “We have to wake up to what’s happening.”
The state created a Human Trafficking Task Force about six to eight months ago.
Torgensen said he is not sure if the problem is growing or if authorities are just now becoming aware of it.
Alana Kindness said the answer is both.
“What often gets labeled as prostitution is actually human trafficking or exploitation,” she said.
Kindness has worked with victims of sex trafficking and said not all are undocumented. Victims can be born and raised in Utah and many times don’t fit the stereotype.
“Very often they’re wearing sweats and jeans and T-shirt,” she said.
She is glad the state is a seeing a growing awareness of the issue.