Operation Underground Railroad has been growing around the world – we now have aftercare partners in 15 countries and our O.U.R. jump team has grown significantly in SE Asia. With the recent damage from natural disasters, we have gathered support to help our partner aftercare homes in the various affected countries. We have assisted in over 40 operations this past year.
But what does O.U.R. do in the United States?
1. Help train law enforcement teams on software to fight trafficking online
One of the biggest problems in the fight against trafficking is that the internet provides a wide, empty space for traffickers to trade child pornography. Our goal is to not make it so easy.
Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces
The different Internet Crimes Against Children teams around the nation are fighting these crimes against children online. Operation Underground Railroad has various tools and resources to help train law enforcement officers and increase their capabilities of finding predators online. (ICAC is organized by the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.)
Just this past quarter, our collaboration with Utah’s ICAC team was very successful. This task force was able to initiate 199 more investigations online, with 100 of those cases being from CyberTipline referrals.
Training law enforcement on software capabilities has an exponential effect – Utah’s ICAC was able to perform over 11 trainings and support 97 cases outside of their own task force.
The Takedown of Massage Parlors
In addition, O.U.R. was able to assist the St. George Police Department earlier this year in taking down several massage parlors that were providing illegal services to many customers.
When SPGD reached out, O.U.R. was able to provide the police force with resources and translation services for the foreign national victims and witnesses. This collaboration was a success, and set the tone for future successful public-private partnerships.
As told in one of our previous posts, when Tim Ballard offered tools to the Chief of Police in a small California city, the chief declined, saying he didn’t think they had that problem there.
Ballard made him a deal. “Give us two hours,” he said.
In just 15 minutes, Ballard and his team identified over 60 predators seeking children as young as 9 years old. In two months they were able to find and arrest 40 of those predators.
We are grateful for the many opportunities we have to successfully collaborate with police task forces around the nation. These task forces are well-trained and work hard to end child trafficking, and we are grateful for the resources they provide for many survivors.
2. Support Programs like the K9 Program
O.U.R. assists U.S. law enforcement depending on the needs of different departments across the nation, and supporting the Canine Law Enforcement Program is one of the ways we are able to do so.
The Canine Law Enforcement Program trains dogs for 4-5 months to recognize the scent of hidden electronic storage devices (i.e. thumb drives, SD cards) to help police find devices containing child pornography more efficiently in investigations.
Recently, a dog named “Reptar” was purchased with grant money to assist law enforcement in Columbus, Ohio. Reptar will be lent to other law enforcement teams as needed.
We also have a partnership with doTERRA’s Healing Hands Foundation, who purchased two of these dogs just a few months ago.
Cinnamon Bark, named after one of doTERRA’s oils
They are currently training to go to law enforcement teams in LA and Florida. These dogs are valuable resources because they can find these storage devices even in car seats and couch cushions, where it may take a human much longer to find.
3. Aftercare: Red Light Outreach
One of the most important steps in O.U.R.’s rescue process is aftercare. “There is no rescue without healing,” Tim Ballard says. One of the ways we are able to assist with this in the U.S. is through finding, vetting and partnering with aftercare homes for survivors to reside once they are rescued. It is important that these homes have the resources to support the healing process of survivors, so that they can go on to make livable incomes and stay out of traffickers’ sight.
Another way that O.U.R. is able to assist is through Red Light Outreach. There are groups in larger cities that bring hygiene kits and trafficking hotline cards to those who are on the streets and are most vulnerable. Through this we are able to give resources and hope to those on the streets in these cities.
Our partnership with doTERRA has also benefitted our survivors. One of doTERRA’s Certified Pure Therapeutic-Grade oils, the “Hope” oil, has O.U.R.’s logo on it. If you peel the label back, the human trafficking hotline number is provided. These oil bottles are distributed around the world to young adults to lead them to good resources.
We are grateful for the many successful collaborations we have been able to be a part of domestically. In 2016, we were able to provide some training to Homeland Security that helped them successfully arrest a man who was a child porn distributor. Even one arrest like this can help prevent at least 100 – 200 children from being abused in the future.
What can YOU Do?
Learn about 3 places you might see trafficking, and what you can do about it here.
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