Human Trafficking Epidemic
Human trafficking has only recently become a more common topic of conversation, though it has been going on for as long as humans have been around. With the expansion of the Internet, along with anonymous apps for texting and calling, girls (and boys) are in danger of being sex trafficked. Recently, a backpage.com executive plead guilty to prostitution ad schemes. The charges marked the conclusion of a years-long battle to shut the page down and hold those responsible accountable.
This isn’t only happening in poor or third world countries, but in thriving first world ones – to include the United States. Authorities estimate the modern-day slavery industry is worth more than $150 billion. Further, there are currently around 2 million child sex slaves around the world. This industry is tempting to criminals because unlike drugs, which can only be sold and used once, humans can be sold repeatedly, and children are in high demand.
Luckily for us, we have never had a shortage of volunteers to join our armed forces, local and federal police departments, or any job that puts them in harm’s way. Many citizens in this country are driven by service and purpose. Further, it is because of those people that we have organizations like Operation Underground Railroad.
Operation Underground Railroad Foundation History
Operation Underground Railroad was founded in 2013 by Timothy Ballard, a prior Special Agent for the Department of Homeland Security. Moreover, he specialized in crimes against children and worked as an undercover agent for U.S. Child Sex Tourism Jump Team. Additionally, he was seeing firsthand the danger that children all over the world were facing, and he wanted to be a more active member in saving these children and bringing the perpetrators to justice.
But it doesn’t stop there. They also have a team of volunteers who perform medical and psychological aftercare for the children who have been enslaved and subjected to less-than-ideal living conditions. The reason Ballard named it Operation Underground Railroad was because the original Underground Railroad was founded on the same basis. A network of people from varying cultures and backgrounds coming together for the common good. They performed operations such as pretending to be “slave catchers,” in order to rescue enslaved people and give them back their natural right to freedom.
Who Works There & What They Do
Firstly, O.U.R. Rescue encompasses experts from all over, including former Navy SEALs, CIA agents, and Special Operations operatives who have all specialized in extractions. They also get together and coordinate efforts to identify where it is happening, and how best to get the children out of there safely.
The aftercare team is also essential to this mission. After the children are rescued, they have volunteers who help them with counseling. Further, this is an imperative step to the healing process as they just experienced one of the most traumatic events a person could ever face. O.U.R. also provides copious amounts of medical care.
O.U.R. works alongside organizations and governments that help provide a place for the children to go. But O.U.R. will always vet and assess the facility before they feel it is an appropriate and safe place for the children to be. This aspect makes this organization even more impressive.
They could easily pass the buck to someone else to worry about the kids and nobody would blame them. But they stick around until the job is complete. Additionally, O.U.R. ensures children receive the best care possible. Also, O.U.R. lists the “Process” on its website, explaining exactly how it saves child sex slaves.
1. Assess the feasibility of rescue. This must take into account the willingness of local authorities to work with us since we not only want to save the children but arrest the perpetrators as well.
2. Research the location, the children and the background of those who are running the sex ring. We also search for vetted care facilities that will take the children once they are rescued and not only give them food and shelter but rehabilitate them as well. In some instances, the children are able to return to their families.
3. Design a strategy for rescuing the children. This is the logistical part of the process. As former CIA, Navy Seals, Special Agents, etc., we have a very unique skill set to make this happen safely, efficiently and legally. We provide local law enforcement training to support and sustain anti-trafficking operations.
4. Take action. Obviously, this is the most dangerous part of the operation but one well worth taking. Also, in some instances, we go undercover and arrange to “buy” a child as if we were a customer. After the purchase, we move in with the police, arrest those responsible and rescue the children. In other cases, we may act as a “client” looking for favors, etc. Again, we work with local authorities to make sure everything is done to protect the children and that the perpetrators are arrested.
5. Recover the children. These children’s lives will never be the same. Their innocence has been stolen, and they need help to readjust to a better world. Therapy can be provided, as well as food and shelter at a pre-screened facility.
6. Arrest, try, and convict the perpetrators. We follow this process every step of the way to make sure they don’t traffic children again. In many cases the perpetrators were sex slaves and victims of trafficking themselves and know no better way to survive. We hope to break this cycle.
Operation Underground Railroad Past Rescues
How You Can Help
You don’t have to be a door-kicking-cool-guy-bad-ass to help with their mission. However you absolutely should if that’s what you want to do. Further, there are multiple ways you can assist with this amazing group of veterans and volunteers.
- Host an event
- Shop their merch
- Attend an event
- Start a campaign
- Corporate gift matching
- Get alerts on your phone
You can find the links on how to do all of the above and learn all about this incredible group and organization on its website, ourrescue.org.