More prostitution charges leveled
Three weeks after local authorities made a rare bust of a suspected prostitution ring, police on Feb. 7 arrested two more people on similar charges, alleging that they were selling sex in an operation unrelated to the first one.
Park City Police Department Lt. Rick Ryan said the most recent arrests were a result of a sting operation by a consortium of area law-enforcement agencies.
( Nancy Romero Sanchez, 23 of Salt Lake City. She faces class B misdemeanor charges of sexual solicitation and operating without a sexually oriented business license.
( Jose Angel Garcia Torres, 24, of Salt Lake City. He faces class B misdemeanor charges of aiding prostitution and operating without a sexually oriented business license and a class C misdemeanor count of conspiring for sexual solicitation.
Class B misdemeanors are punishable by six months in jail and a $1,000 fine and class C misdemeanors carry a punishment of 90 days in jail and a $750 fine.
Formal charges had not been filed in Third District Court by Tuesday morning.
Ryan said immigration authorities ordered the two held.
He said the authorities had been investigating several escort services and the investigations provided leads on the two suspects.
Undercover officers on Feb. 6 arranged a rendezvous at about 5 p.m. on Feb. 7 in a Prospector apartment, Ryan said. The undercover officer met Torres, who Ryan describes as a pimp, and Sanchez in the apartment’s parking lot.
Ryan said the undercover officer negotiated to pay $40 for a 15-minute sex act and then they were taken into custody.
"As soon as the agreement was made, they were both arrested," Ryan said. "They certainly didn’t expect it."
Ryan said Torres told the police that his prostitutes had 10 appointments the day before the arrest and seven the day that they were busted. He is unsure how many of the appointments were in Park City but said that they worked in the city frequently.
"They were heavily working Park City," Ryan said.
On Jan. 12, the authorities arrested four people on sex charges in what the police described as a prostitution ring. The Jan. 12 bust was also a result of a sting operation.
Ryan has previously said that the first set of arrests came after an investigation that started in the summer. Undercover officers contacted a Web site known as naughtynightlife.com, which advertised an escort service in Park City.
Two of the women arrested in January agreed to perform a sex act for between $180 and $500 and the others were arrested that month in a similar fashion.
Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds at the time indicated that the authorities were investigating other prostitution cases in Park City and at Kimball Junction.
Ryan said this week prostitution investigations are important because drugs and violence are frequently linked to prostitution.
"This is big. This is something that brings with it all kinds of issues," Ryan said, adding,"It destroys the moral fiber of the community if it’s allowed to go on."
Ryan said some escort services started operating in Park City and surrounding Summit County because it is more difficult to obtain a business license in Salt Lake City. He said that as the number of visitors and full-time Parkites grows, the community changes, bringing the escort services.
"You make a phone call. They bring a girl. It’s not that difficult to get that service if that’s what you want," Ryan said.
Ryan sees the suspects as having a "pretty sad life, having to earn money that way."
"The glamour that people seem to think go with these escort services . . . they look like they have a hard life and they do," he said.
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Tourism revenue increased month over month this summer, the Park City Chamber/Bureau reported, but lodging numbers are still off 22% for December. Officials reported a recent uptick in bookings, though, pointing to a modicum of certainty after ski resorts announced their COVID-related opening policies.