I don’t believe there is anything worse than the trafficking of children for sex. Children are often sold by parents because of poverty, are “traded” by adults in their life for drugs or cash, or are lured by traffickers who promise money, affection and support from an adult or children can simply be kidnapped.
Is there any hope for recovering a child lost in this hell?
There is. A unique, successful organization called Operation Underground Railroad is showing the world it can be done. Timothy Ballard is the founder and CEO of Operation Underground Railroad (OUR); Ballard is a former special agent in Homeland Security. There, he worked to bring down child pornography rings and the internet sale of children. With OUR, Ballard has the ability to work with many governments, and work quickly.
Mark Mabry, a journalist for The Blaze, went along side an OUR team as they worked to rescue children in Colombia. OUR teams often pose as “sex tourists,” men who travel to countries like Thailand, Haiti and Colombia to have sex with both adult trafficking victims and children. The OUR team makes contact with traffickers, and asks to set up a party. In this instance, they tell the trafficker they would like a young girl, a virgin.
Lady, the eleven year old, really is a virgin. For over a year, Raul has fed her a steady diet of hard porn, live sex demonstrations, drugs, alcohol, promises reserved for the rich, and threats reserved for the captive. The technical term for this training is “grooming”. Sex with a virgin child costs around $1000. After that, her rate will decrease with age. Her ability to service several clients a day will have to increase in order to capture the precious few years of youth.
Raul brokers a deal with Tim, his American contact. The party is set for a beach house Tim has rented.
Three beautiful American women [working undercover for OUR] escort the children back to a large room with several beds. These were the same three women who greeted and inspected the kids at the shipping dock in Cartagena 45 minutes prior. It’s customary at a child sex party to have someone to groom and clean the kids -babysit them- between sessions.
What Raul doesn’t know, of course, is that Tim is Timothy Ballard. He and his companions have no interest in having a sex party with children. They are there to rescue them. Raul coaxes Lady along, telling her she will be fine; she is clearly terrified.
As time for the party draws near, Tim and his co-workers remain “in character” and act surprised when a Colombian SWAT team moves in for the rescue. Keeping their cover is important if OUR returns to this area to work.
Mabry tells of what happens when the traffickers are arrested and the children are safe:
They were careful not to let the kids see them celebrate, as it safer to maintain cover, but it was too late this time. Several of the girls had emerged and learned that Raul, Fuego … and the cocaine guy were being arrested. Inside of the room, an accidental breach of protocol, a Child Protective Services agent explained to a confused child, pointing at the women and the OUR team, “Those ones are the good guys”. Word spread and the kids began to wander out of the room. Some asked for the restroom, only so they could come out and smile and wave at the team.
Child Protective Services quickly pulled the kids back inside the room and the jump team of Americans was ushered to the boats. …but Child Protective Services forgot something- the window.
Walking back to the boat, the American girls passed the screened window where the youngest kids were sitting. An 11 year old came and pressed her hand to the screen…others came too. The women and girls whispered back on forth.
Smiling. Tim approached behind the American women and was granted the one thing he’d always wanted. One little girl kept her hand on the window and he reached out to touch it. Tears flowed down her cheeks…Tim’s too. She probably didn’t realize the personal price Tim had paid to get her back home, and back into the fifth grade… unraped.
In early 2015, OUR had worked four operations and rescued 43 trafficking victims. While it takes tremendous private funding to the work they do, they are able to work quickly and efficiently. They make contact with the law enforcement agencies in the countries where rescues are taking place, train them, work along side them, thus making it possible for those agencies to continue the work after OUR has gone.
Of course, the ideal situation would be that no child ever has to face this. Until dire poverty has been alleviated and rule of law is coherent and enforced everywhere, the men and women of OUR will have to continue their work.