Utah AG Reyes Reveals Role in Sex Slave Sting Operation in Colombia
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has revealed his participation in a human trafficking sting operation last fall in Cartagena, Colombia.
Reyes says he’s been aware of the growing problem but when his office prosecuted the “State of Utah versus Victor Rax” case it became more personal for him. Victor Rax was alleged to have abducted and sexually abused children in the Salt Lake Valley.
“And when we took him down and I got more familiar with the darkness in that world," says Reyes, "I was really moved to try to do more, put more resources towards it.”
Reyes says he then found Tim Ballard of Operation Underground Railroad, a non-profit group that combats human trafficking and had done a similar sting last year in Colombia. He says Ballard used to be on the task force of the Utah AG’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children.
During the sting, the attorney general was an undercover body guard of another team member. Reyes says his wife was supportive despite the inherent risks involved.
"We talked about it, we prayed about it as a family," Reyes says, "I could not assure them that everything was going to be okay. There’s always a risk.”
Reyes says the team had support from US and Colombia Ambassadors as well as military and law enforcement personnel. They were able to return 127 girls to their families, some of whom had been waiting years for their return.
“Everyone in Utah can make a difference. It was a brave person who reported on Victor Rax," says Reyes, "just suspected that something might be amiss in his neighborhood.”
Reyes says with more of that kind of awareness in communities throughout Utah, there can be an end to an industry that does despicable things to children and adults.