Salina Police Department’s equipment, made possible in part through Operation Underground Railroad to help in locating sex trafficking victims, was used just for that purpose last week.
On April 19, 2022 the Utah Highway Patrol received a BOLO (be on the lookout) for a vehicle driven by a 26-year-old Michael Lewis with passengers of two teenage girls- both listed as missing persons in a national database. It was suspected they were traveling from Colorado to California.
“We did receive notification of the vehicle traveling through Salina and this tip was extremely helpful in the investigation,” said UHP spokesman Sgt. Cameron Roden. “The officers involved did great work in helping locate the vehicle and the male suspect was taken into custody later that day. It all came together pretty quickly.”
After learning the vehicle had passed through Salina, a UHP trooper located it in the parking lot of the McDonalds in Beaver and the Beaver’s Sheriff’s department and other agencies were contacted to assist with the situation as the suspect wasn’t cooperative.
Roden said the investigation is ongoing but there’s nothing to believe the girls were taken against their will, though they’re looking into the possibility of sex trafficking. Lewis was booked into Beaver County Jail for failure to respond to officers’ signal to stop, two counts of permitting a child to be exposed to a controlled substance, possession or use of a controlled substance, use or possession of drug paraphernalia, and for being a fugitive from justice with a warrant of arrest.
“We’re grateful this story has a happy ending, and the girls were found safely,” said Salina Police Chief Al Taylor. “My biggest fear is someone grabbing one of our kids and us not knowing which way they went. There are so many roads in and out of this place! Thanks to Operation Underground Railroad we do have some equipment that can help us in these types of situations, and several other agencies around the state have heard of our success with this equipment and are wanting to get on board. We all need to do what we can to help these innocent victims.”