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SALT LAKE CITY — Two people have been arrested in the case of a woman who police say was kidnapped in New York and brought to Salt Lake City as part of a human trafficking ring.
Late Monday afternoon, Salt Lake police announced the arrests of Jean Joseph, 26, of New York, and Tara L. Pinnock, 24, of Albany, N.Y. They were arrested booked for investigation of aggravated human trafficking and kidnapping.
Pinnock was arrested earlier this year in Connecticut as part of an effort to crack down on prostitution before the Super Bowl, according to a press release from Connecticut State Police on Feb. 3. She was among nine people arrested as part of Operation Recovered Innocence.
"The operation was conducted in an effort to recover victims of child prostitution, which was in support of a larger FBI effort in the tri-state area to combat child prostitution during Super Bowl week," the release stated. Four underage girls were rescued as part of that operation.
About 9:30 p.m. Sunday, 911 dispatchers in Salt Lake City received a call from a 23-year-old woman who claimed she was kidnapped in New York about two or three weeks ago and forced into prostitution.
The woman told detectives she was abducted off a New York street, forced into a vehicle and beaten, said Salt Lake Police Sgt. Robin Heiden. At one point, she was beaten to unconsciousness and woke up in Pennsylvania, she said.
The man, who was possibly traveling with two other women in addition to the alleged victim, continued driving west and made a stop in Denver. The woman told police she tried to escape there but was unsuccessful.
In Salt Lake City on Sunday, the woman tried to escape again and this time was able to run free, Heiden said. The woman had a cellphone and called 911. When officers responded to the area of 110 West and 600 South, they found the woman hiding behind a post. She was taken to a local hospital where doctors found evidence of old injuries, Heiden said.
After she was interviewed by detectives, investigators found a man matching the description of the man suspected of trafficking her, Heiden said. That man, Joseph, was questioned for several hours before being arrested.
Police were still looking Monday for the suspect's vehicle, a newer four-door black Mercedes-Benz with a New Jersey or Virginia license plate.
Neither Joseph nor Pinnock have any previous criminal history in Utah, according to state court records.
Joseph was arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on suspicion of one count of human trafficking, a first degree felony; one county of kidnapping or abduction, a second degree felony; one count of aggravated assault, a second degree felony; and one count of rape, a third degree felony.
Pinnock was arrested and booked on suspicion of one count of human trafficking, and she's being held for U.S. Marshals.
Contributing: Haley Smith