SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah, October 5, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) – A Salt Lake County man was arrested on Tuesday for several offenses related to prostitution and drug distribution.
Michael Joe Ricks, 49, faces charges of:
- The aggravated exploitation of prostitution, a second degree crime
- Distribution / offering / organization / distribution of controlled substances, a second degree crime
- Two counts of knowingly producing / distributing / manufacturing or a controlled substance, a second degree felony
- The exploitation of prostitution, a crime in the third degree
- Assisting in prostitution, a class A offense
A probable cause statement filed by the Utah Attorney General’s Office indicates that in March of this year, a victim (victim 1) met with law enforcement “regarding a person distributing narcotics, particularly of heroin, methamphetamine and other prescribed drugs.
controlled substances, ”says Ricks’ probable cause statement.
“V1 also reported to your depositor that the same person was involved in the exploitation of women in the commercial sex industry and was specifically a victim of that person. “
The woman was known to the attorney general’s office because she had been victimized in an earlier case, the statement said.
“Your depositor knows that V1 has worked in the sex industry for several years and is a self-declared sex worker. Your depositor found V1 to be truthful, cooperative and open.
Victim 1 described the suspect as a Caucasian male in his 50s known as Mike Ricks, the statement said. She provided officials with an email address the suspect used, she said, to make appointments for the sex workers. The woman said she met Ricks on an adult website, and he suggested she work for him.
“In addition to placing the ads, Ricks also offered to provide V1 with a place to meet customers, a vehicle for travel, food and accommodation,” the statement said. “In return, Ricks would take 30% of all profits made by V1, who would perform the sex acts. On top of that, V1 reported that Ricks would sell narcotics, especially heroin, to V1 and some customers.
“V1 also told your depositor that Ricks would have multiple women he manages and uses multiple locations for this. V1 met a few of these women, who reported that Ricks used the same recruiting method to entice them to work for him by engaging in commercial sex.
Victim 1 told officers she was afraid of Ricks, who had threatened her in the past, according to her probable cause statement.
Victim 1 allowed officers to do a forensic download of her phone, which led to evidence to support the issuance of a warrant against Ricks.
“Upon receiving the results of these search warrants, your depositor found an abundance of evidence relating to the distribution of drugs, the exploitation of prostitution and human trafficking,” said Ricks’ probable cause statement.
The research also revealed “distributable amounts of suboxone, a schedule 3 controlled substance. Officers also located distributable amounts of a white powder, which was field tested and positive for cocaine.” Distributable amounts of a green leafy substance, which field tested positive for marijuana, have also been discovered. “
Ricks is being held without bond and has contacted Victim 1 and her family members on several occasions despite being told not to, the statement said.
“To date, your depositor has discovered 26 potential victims, but has only been able to identify 13 so far,” says Ricks’ probable cause statement. “If Ricks is released, your depositor has reason to believe he may contact or attempt to interfere with the integrity of the investigation.”