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Media coverage about Operation Underground Railroad

Operation Homeschooled- 10 Arrested in Mesa, Arizona

Operation Homeschooled- 10 Arrested in Mesa, Arizona

Child Prostitution Arrests

Mesa Police Department
Media Relations Office
For Release: December 12, 2016

Mesa Police Detectives completed another operation targeting sexual predators trying to engage in sex acts with underage juveniles. Operation Home Schooled utilized undercover detectives posing as 13 and 14-year-old juveniles, and traffickers, chatting on commonly used internet sites where suspects seek out illegal sex acts. The suspects solicited and/or brokered deals for various sex acts with the minor and were arrested when they responded to the location where they were supposed to meet the minor for sex.

Each year the Mesa Police Department conducts operations of this type in a continuous effort to remove these predators from our community. Suspects willing to solicit sex acts with children are some of the most dangerous criminals in our society. The suspects in the latest operation ranged in age from 66 to 23 years old.


This operation was a collaborative effort between the Mesa Police Department and Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.). We also want to recognize the Hickey Family Foundation, AZ Men, and our local business partners; Empire Southwest and the Treehouse Group, for their invaluable support of this initiative. For more information about human exploitation and trafficking, please visit


Board of Governors: Alberto Puertas

Board of Governors: Alberto Puertas

O.U.R. recently added Mr. Alberto Puertas to their Board of Governors.

Alberto Puertas is a career/academic counselor for the University Advisement Center at Brigham Young University. His responsibilities include: serving as the International Advisement Specialist at BYU; teaching courses in career strategies, career exploration, and effective learning; mentoring students at risk, and assisting the University in promoting career development issues and objectives.

Alberto has a Master of Science in Counseling and Guidance from BYU. He has mentored many college students doing humanitarian work and internships abroad. He has presented workshops and seminars in the United States, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Bolivia and Peru. In his presentations and daily work, Alberto Puertas emphasizes the relationship between meaning, spirituality and career development. He also stresses the benefits and challenges globalization presents to vocational guidance in the international arena to this new millennium.

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NOV 21, 2016 



 Operation Underground Railroad is partnering with International NGO Agape International Missions to rescue more children from sex trafficking in Cambodia

CAMBODIA– Today Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) announced their partnership with International NGO Agape International Missions (AIM), a humanitarian organization focused on ending child sex slavery in Cambodia since 2005. AIM’s goal is to defeat the evil of sex trafficking. Their programs are stopping the cycle of exploitation by preventing trafficking, and rescuing, restoring and reintegrating survivors. 

“O.U.R. is incredibly excited to partner with A.I.M., to share and learn new online investigation techniques and technology, and to help local police forces and governments catch such pedophiles that prey upon the young in Cambodia. With the spirit of the mission in mind, we believe that by combining forces we can help save more and more children from child sex slavery, ” said Founder and CEO of Operation Underground Railroad Tim Ballard.  

O.U.R. and AIM have partnered on missions in Cambodia in the past, and share a similar faith based approach to their work. O.U.R. looks forward to continued work with AIM as they rescue children from slavery and rebuild their lives and communities by working with local authorities.

“The opportunities to share skills, experiences, and technologies, which come from the O.U.R.-AIM partnership, will result in an exponential impact on child sex trafficking in Cambodia. Bottom-line, more children will be rescued, more traffickers imprisoned, and fewer children will experience the trauma of sexual exploitation,” said AIM’s CEO & Co-Founder of Anti Trafficking Initiatives Don Brewster

About Operation Underground Railroad: O.U.R is a non-profit organization that rescues children from slavery. O.U.R rescue teams are comprised of highly skilled ex-Navy SEALs, Special Forces, CIA and other operatives. O.U.R’s work has gained international media coverage  on CBS Evening NewsFox News Sunday, and The Blaze among others. 


For more information or to schedule an interview with Tim Ballard, please contact Brielle at or 201-693-5378.

Dr. Jorge Luis Romero joins the Board of Governors

Dr. Jorge Luis Romero joins the Board of Governors

Last week, Operation Underground Railroad added a new member to their Board of Governors, Dr. Jorge Luis Romero Castro. Dr. Romero is a member of the Andean Parliament and is currently the Vice-Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights and Social Affairs for the Andean Region. He heard about O.U.R. through current board member, Alberto Puertas and quickly flew to the United States to meet the O.U.R. team. Dr. Romero intends to open more doors for Operation Underground Railroad throughout the Andean Countries (Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador) as an active board member. Given his impressive background, endless recognitions and key connections, O.U.R. is honored to have Dr. Romero  join their team in this fight.

Some of Dr. Romero’s accomplishments include:

*He was recognized with the Degree of DOCTOR HONORIS CAUSA by the GRENDAL UNIVERSITY OF U.S.A. for his unstoppable career of 15 years in the service of Personal Development in 9 Countries.

*He was recognized with the Global Leadership Award by Midwest University St. Louis Missouri  for his trajectory in the field of World Leadership.

*He was recognized as the most influential Coach in Peru by the magazine Etiqueta Negra for his successful and successful presence in various business, social and political segments, in wealth-generating companies and for having led to several candidates for Political Power.

*He was recognized as one of the 5 Coaches and lecturers of the most sought after Personnel in Latin America, by the prestigious Journal GESTIÓN.

*He was awarded in the Congress of the Republic as the most influential Coach in Peru. 

Follow Dr. Romero on Facebook HERE

Watch a Facebook Live video of Jorge, Alberto and Tim HERE

The Power of One

The Power of One

It is truly amazing what one person can do. Take 17-year-old Mark Tenney, a senior in high school from Irvine, California, for example. He heard Tim Ballard’s story about rescuing children from sex slavery and immediately felt impressed to help in the best way he knew how – organize a bike ride. Not just any bike ride; a 450-mile, five-day bike ride down the California Coast to benefit Operation Underground Railroad.

Ride The Railroad Participants
Ride The Railroad Participants in Irvine, California

It took over a year of planning, organizing and promoting the July 26-30, 2016 event, but he did it! Friends and family and even strangers helped out with 45 riders joining him on the excursion. In the end he raised $135,000 and donations are still coming in. In fact, if you’d like to donate you can go to and find Ride the Railroad. Donations will be taken until August 30, 2016.


Mark Tenney raises $135,000 to help rescue children
Tim Ballard with a check from Mark Tenney for $135,000 to help rescue children

Operation Underground Railroad congratulates Mark Tenney, his family and supporters on a job well done. Children all over the world will be liberated and traffickers arrested due to their efforts. Thank you!

Operation Underground Railroad
Operation Underground Railroad
Protecting Our Children from Sex Trafficking

Protecting Our Children from Sex Trafficking

By Monique Derr


Being a parent is arguably the most joyful experience in the world, but it can also be the most terrifying. It seems we have to always be on our toes, fighting for the balance between safety, and living without fear. With so much media focus and growing awareness of sex trafficking, we find ourselves in positions of both worry and confusion. Can this happen in my state? In my city? Could my child be at risk? While the answers can be overwhelming, we can feel security and empowerment when we are armed with accurate information. Understanding what we can do to protect our children is critical to not only our children’s safety, but our sanity and peace of mind as parents. But first, we have to understand what it is.



Though hardly new, sex trafficking is a growing criminal industry. There are an estimated 3 million human trafficked slaves in the world today, and most of them are victims of sex trafficking specifically. It is often mistakenly believed to be something that only occurs in developing countries, and only across country boarders. In fact, sex trafficking can and does occur within developed countries, such as the United States, and within our very cities of residence. Victims range from all demographics. The actual definition of sex trafficking is any person engaged in a commercial sex act as a result of force, fraud, or coercion, OR a minor involved in commercial sex behavior. In the case of the latter, consent is irrelevant; a minor is always a victim of sex trafficking. It is important to understand that there is no such thing as child prostitution. It is always a crime against the child.



In the United States, there are high risks groups. Runaways, immigrants, refugees, children in foster care, and those suffering from drug addictions are targets for traffickers. But the reality is that it can happen to anyone. It is not unheard of for sex trafficking busts to include the rescue of children from affluent homes, in “safe” neighborhoods, who return home at night and go to school each day.



Popular areas for traffickers to target minors include playgrounds, malls, walking to and from school, bus stops, and truck stops/gas stations. The internet is a very popular place for minors to be targeted and deceived. Social media in particular poses many threats. Places where victims of trafficking are likely to be spotted are hotels, bars, truck stops, busses, the streets, popular political or sporting events, escort services, and even “front businesses” such as some massage parlors and nail salons.



Kidnapping and force do happen in the United States, but those tactics are far less common than other methods used for trafficking. Only about 5% of victims are physically kidnapped and restrained, the majority are recruited by someone they know and trust or by new “friends or “boyfriends.” Blackmail, threats to families, drug dependency, and manipulation are common tactics used by traffickers. A trafficker often has what is called a “bottom,” who works to recruit young people by means of deception. They may pose as a mentor and friend or an older boyfriend. Depending on the situation of the individual being targeted, they may be blackmailed with embarrassing photos, they may be threatened to be reported to the police if their family is undocumented citizens, they may be coerced to engage in commercial sex for drugs based on a developing dependency and addiction, or they may be told their parents will be harmed if they do not do as they are told. There are phases that a person is put through as they are trafficked. They are first recruited, then groomed, then seasoned. There are key signs that a person has been targeted and is at various stages of being trafficked, and knowing what to watch for can make all the difference in identifying someone being victimized.




  1. Older adult showing interest in child, asking questions about their life, family, hopes, dreams
  2. Excessive flattery
  3. Buying gifts
  4. Romantic interest, often by someone older


  1. Isolation from friends and family
  2. Controlling activities, behaviors, dress and time
  3. Encouraging sexual activities like modeling, stripping, and pornography
  4. Drug and alcohol use


  1. Physical abuse
  2. Sexual abuse
  3. Emotional and verbal abuse
  4. Forced sexual education
  5. Confinement
  6. Re-naming or re-programming
  7. Removal from familiarity
  8. Creating dependencies
  9. Branding (tattoos)



Ask your children questions about their relationships. Talk to them about predators, sex trafficking, drugs, and sex. Research these topics together and discuss them often. Monitor their online presence and interactions. Teach them to never meet up with someone they met online. Know their friends. If you believe someone you know and love is being targeted or currently being sex trafficked, reach out to your local police, or call the national human trafficking hotline: 1-888-373-7888.

Remarks from Senator Orrin Hatch at a Pre-Screening of “The Abolitionists”

Remarks from Senator Orrin Hatch at a Pre-Screening of “The Abolitionists”


Today is the day! The Abolitionists documentary is set to hit over 500 theaters across the country this evening. We hope you have your ticket!

The below remarks were given by Senator Orrin Hatch at a pre-screening of The Abolitionists on May 11, 2016 in Washington DC. Enjoy!

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HR515 – International Megan’s Law Passes

HR515 – International Megan’s Law Passes

HR515 – International Megan’s Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders.

Sponsored by Rep. Christopher Smith (R), New Jersey


President Obama signed an international version of Megan’s Law on February 8, 2016, requiring countries be notified when a previously convicted sex offender enters their sovereign space. “This is a huge win for children everywhere,” said Operation Underground Railroad Founder and CEO Tim Ballard.

Ballard testified at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in Washington, D.C. in support of the bill over a year ago telling the committee, “The fact that we are talking about child victims should cause us, on a moral level, to find ways to remove barriers that prevent international engagement.”

The international law authorizes the United States to alert foreign countries when a convicted registered child sex offender is entering their country. As part of that effort the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has expanded the efforts of the Angel Watch Center.

“ICE’s Operation Angel Watch plays a crucial role in the global fight against child sex tourism, said ICE Director Sara R. Saldana. Under this unique and innovative initiative, we are able to send actionable information to our law enforcement partners around the globe so that they can assess the situation and respond appropriately, whether that is to deny an individual entry into their country, or to monitor that individual’s travel for potential danger to children. The creation of a formalized and expanded Angel Watch Center further enhances our efforts to protect children around the world,” Saldana said in a press release from the Department of Homeland Security.

“Initially created in 2007 by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Operation Angel Watch is managed by the Child Exploitation Investigations Unit of the ICE Cyber Crimes Center and is a joint effort with U.S. Customs and Border (CBP) and the U.S. Marshals Services.”

“Operation Angel Watch targets individuals who have been previously convicted of sexual crimes against a child and who may pose a potential new threat: traveling overseas for the purpose of sexually abusing or exploiting minors, a crime known as ‘child sex tourism,” according to their press release.

HR515 sends a signal to countries around the world that the United States is anxious to protect children at home and abroad by tracking convicted child predators. It also encourages foreign countries to increase their efforts to combat the sex tourist industry and shine a light on areas where sex trafficking is a thriving business. Currently it is an estimated 37 billion dollar industry.

The notification of registered pedophiles consistently visiting specific areas highlights a tolerance and vulnerability. This is a large area of focus for O.U.R. with our Law Enforcement Systems Division which attempts to identify the problem and counter that vulnerability. It is O.U.R.’s belief that such a law will help stem the tide of sex trafficking among children, approximately two million of whom are being sold for sex internationally.

Megan’s Law is named after seven-year-old Megan Kanka, who was brutally raped and murdered in 1994 by the man who lived across the street from her family in New Jersey. They had no idea a convicted sex offender lived so close to them. The man, Jesse Timmendeuas, had previously been twice convicted of sex crimes against small children, yet the family had no way of knowing that.

Three months following that heinous crime, New Jersey passed Megan’s Law, officially known as The Jacob Wetterling Act of 1994, which required convicted sex offenders to be placed on a sex registry list.

The Kankas family hopes no one ever has to endure what they did. They’ve been tirelessly working to help others prevent that. Due to their prodding, many states followed suite, but not all; that is, until a federal bill was passed in 1996, requiring all states to provide this information to the general public, with the goal of protecting the innocent.

That federal law has now become an international law with HR515 being signed by the president. Operation Underground Railroad is proud to play a part in helping this bill to pass; and it will greatly enable O.U.R. in finding sex abusers and traffickers of children. The Megans of the world will be much safer now because of it.

The HR515 bill is listed below along with related stories.

Written by: Cheryl L. Karr