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Media coverage about Operation Underground Railroad

1,000 Sex Buyers and Traffickers Arrested by Law Enforcement in 17 States

1,000 Sex Buyers and Traffickers Arrested by Law Enforcement in 17 States

by Megan Cerullo | Aug 18, 2017 | nydailynews.com

Img source: nydailynews.com 

More than 250 sex buyers and traffickers were arrested in Houston as part of a national initiative aimed at suppressing prostitution.

Law enforcement agencies made more than 1,000 arrests countrywide as part of the “National Johns Suppression Initiative,” according to the Cook County sheriff’s office press release.

“I’m very proud of our work, but concerned by the fact that demand hasn’t declined,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said of the results, announced Friday morning, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The operation ran from June 28 — July 31 and spanned 17 states, according to the Cook County sheriff’s office.

Read the full article at nydailynews.com.


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We are grateful for the law enforcement’s efforts in fighting child sex trafficking. Check out this article about how the FBI’s investigation led to 296 rescues and 900 arrests here.

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O.U.R. Training Helps Homeland Security Arrest a Child Porn Distributor

O.U.R. Training Helps Homeland Security Arrest a Child Porn Distributor

by Dave Hendricks | Oct 6, 2016 | valleycentral.com

A federal judge sentenced a Harlingen man to 20 years in prison Wednesday for distribution of child pornography.

U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera sentenced Kevin Michael Kaster, 26, of Harlingen to 20 years in federal prison on Wednesday afternoon.

Agents with the Rio Grande Valley Child Exploitation Investigations Task Force arrested Kaster in February, according to federal court records. The task force includes agents with Homeland Security Investigations — a division of U.S. immigration and Customs Enforcement — in Brownsville and Harlingen.

During a search, federal agents found 22 child pornography videos on Kaster’s computer, according to the criminal complaint against him.

“Kaster admitted to being the owner of the computer and being in possession of child pornography,” according to the criminal complaint. “Kaster stated that during the last three years, he has downloaded child pornography to his computer.”

Read the full news story at valleycentral.com.


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Homeland Security Investigations was able to catch this man based on training that the O.U.R. team provided for them. We are grateful for the opportunity our team has to enable law enforcement in the U.S. and around the world to protect kids from trafficking.

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Human Trafficking: How it Happens in Places like the Mayweather-McGregor Fight in Las Vegas

Human Trafficking: How it Happens in Places like the Mayweather-McGregor Fight in Las Vegas

By  | August 15, 2017 | thefederalist.com

With a highly anticipated fight between boxing’s biggest star Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and MMA firebrand Conor McGregor just around the corner on August 26, almost all of the stories surrounding the historic event have focused on the animosity between the two fighters, the revenue it’ll bring to Las Vegas (and the fighters themselves), and predictions of its result.

But what has gone underreported is the human cost that will inevitably come to this event in the form of prostitutes and other victims of human trafficking—especially since it’s in Las Vegas, home of the sex industry and one of the highest risk cities in the country for human trafficking.

Major sporting events like this and the Super Bowl every year draw unprecedented amounts of human trafficking. Just this year, during Super Bowl weekend, police arrested 750 suspects in sex trafficking stings across the U.S. In 2015, in the two weeks leading up to Super Bowl XLIX, law enforcement agencies in 17 states arrested nearly 600 people and rescued 68 victims of human trafficking during a sting. In 2012, the week before the Super Bowl over 1,000 postings on Backpage.com, an online postings site that recently came under fire in a new Senate report, listed services from women and escort services, and a quarter referenced the Super Bowl, or “Super Bowl Specials.” The Mayweather-McGregor fight is expected to bring much of the same.

Preventing Sex Trafficking and Protecting Its Victims

Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) Founder and CEO Tim Ballard believes more should be done to reduce the human cost at major sporting events in the U.S.

Read the full article at thefederalist.com.


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The world of human trafficking is large. In addition to big events in places like Las Vegas, trafficking exists in places like the food industry. To read more about it, click here.

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Sex Trafficking in Your Town- Tim Ballard & Nancy Grace Discuss the Upcoming Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor Fight

Sex Trafficking in Your Town- Tim Ballard & Nancy Grace Discuss the Upcoming Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor Fight

“Huge sporting events create a big market for sex traffickers who appeal to men seeking sex with underage girls. You don’t have to travel to the Super Bowl or a Mayweather fight to find sex slaves”. 

When boxing fans converge on Las Vegas for the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight this month, young women and children forced in to sex slavery will be brought into Sin City. Tim Ballard sat down with Nancy Grace as they discussed how sex trafficking is happening right under our noses!

Listen to the full podcast below
(forward to 17:00)

“Crime Stories with Nancy Grace” is now a national radio show, heard on SiriusXM’s Triumph
Channel 132, five times a day. 

Wednesday Crime Stories: Taylor Swift’s groping trial & sex trafficking in your town


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Tim Ballard and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch Work Together to End Human Trafficking

Tim Ballard and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch Work Together to End Human Trafficking

Last Thursday, June 30, new legislation was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee to help the Federal Government effectively work with anti-trafficking nonprofit groups, including Operation Underground Railroad. Tim Ballard and Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, met over three years ago to discuss the possibilities of collaboration between nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), like O.U.R., and the Federal Government. The advance of this bill is a historical mark in the fight against trafficking and the freeing of victims.

The legislation includes plans to create a Public-Private Advisory Council. This council will consist of eight to fourteen representatives from nongovernmental organizations that have a strong understanding and substantial experience in the field of anti-trafficking. This knowledge includes both rescuing victims and providing excellent aftercare for them.

This council will be a direct line of communication between the government and NGOs. The members of this council will collaborate to submit recommendations to Congressional Committees for the Federal Government to know how to implement best practices for fighting human trafficking. Senator Hatch speaks positively about what this council will be able to do. “This Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council will allow government agencies to draw from the unique knowledge and experience of groups like O.U.R., allowing us to leverage government resources to fight human trafficking around the world,” Hatch says.

This legislation melds together the influence of two groups who are both vital to the eradication of human trafficking. Tim Ballard adds, “Human trafficking is a critical issue, and to more efficiently eradicate the problem, nonprofit groups need increased coordination with the Federal Government. This bill establishes a way to share successful anti-human trafficking strategies between federal agencies and organizations like Operation Underground Railroad.”

This Public-Private Advisory Council will open a new chapter in the fight against modern-day slavery for the United States. This legislation will allow both groups to effectively draw on each other’s expertise and work together to lay a strong foundation for future anti-trafficking efforts.

(Image source: Francisco Kjolseth | Salt Lake Tribune)


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City in Ohio Trains Undercover Agents to Spot Trafficking in Liquor Stores

City in Ohio Trains Undercover Agents to Spot Trafficking in Liquor Stores

By Andrew Keiper | Jun 20, 2017 | dispatch.com

The state is taking its fight against human trafficking to liquor-selling establishments by training undercover agents to spot potential victims during investigations.

Gov. John Kasich was joined by anti-trafficking advocates and public officials Monday to announce the Regional Human Trafficking Interdiction Working Groups, a division within the Ohio Investigative Unit.

Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks at a press conference to announce new initiatives intended to strengthen human trafficking prevention [Img: Barbara J. Perenic | Dispatch]

“They’re not just dealing with after hours and bars,” Gov. Kasich said. “They’re dealing with flesh and blood and people.”

The new program within the Ohio Investigative Unit, a division of the State Highway Patrol, will train about 80 undercover Liquor Control Commission enforcement agents to spot potential trafficking victims in addition to their regular investigations. The program does not expand jurisdiction for the officers.

Read the full news story at dispatch.com.


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Tim presented at the Second Annual Human Trafficking and Commercial Exploitation of Children Summit in El Centro, Imperial County, California on May 24, 2017. To read how he taught local leaders how to identify and assist victims of trafficking, click here

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These Athletes Will be Running & Cycling 2000 KM to Aide in the Fight Against Human Trafficking

These Athletes Will be Running & Cycling 2000 KM to Aide in the Fight Against Human Trafficking

By Annie Ross | Jun 20, 2017 | standard.co.uk

Today, June 30, 2017, a cohort of adventurous runners and cyclists are setting off from Bosnia and headed for the UK, an astounding 2,000km away. The aim of the challenge, named Run For Love, is to raise £250,000 to fight human trafficking. I’ll be joining them for Stage Two, a 555km 3-day alpine cycle from Zagreb to Munich so head to social media for updates and you’ll meet some of my fellow challengers (Instagram @eXerKyourself)

The donations raised through Run For Love, an endurance duathlon, will support charities that work towards the prevention of future trafficking and help victims of modern day slavery.

 The Home Office estimate that there are 13,000 potential victims of modern day slavery in the UK alone (2013 data).

 

See the full news story at standard.co.uk (Photo source: standard.co.uk)


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A 17-year-old boy ran a similar campaign on behalf of of O.U.R. as he lead a fundraising bike ride along the California coast. For the full story, click here. If you would like to start a campaign of your own, visit yourrescue.org


 

Fighting Sex Slavery With Soap

Fighting Sex Slavery With Soap

By Brittney Donovan, Action News Jax | Jun 5, 2017 | www1.cbn.com

ARLINGTON, Va. – One group fighting sex trafficking calls itself S.O.A.P. – Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution. And they’ve actually found a way to use soap to battle this second leading crime in America.

During the first weekend of June, they gathered a couple of dozen volunteers in Arlington, Virginia across the Potomac from Washington D.C. to pack bags with bars of soap that have the number of the National Human Trafficking Hotline on the wrapper. Then they delivered these bags to hotels and motels around the D.C. Metro area.

The wrapper says, “Are you being forced to do anything you do not want to do? Have you been threatened if you try to leave? Have you witnessed young girls being prostituted? If so, please call: 1-888-373-7888 – National Human Trafficking Hotline.”

SOAP Saved a Chicago Girl

S.O.A.P. Founder Theresa Flores recently received a text message from someone about one of these wrappers.

Flores recalled, “It said ‘you are the reason I’m free. I found a bar of soap in Chicago and it gave me a reason to get out.’”

For the full news story at www1.cbn.com (Photo source: Pixabay)

Operation Underground Railroad runs a similar campaign with doTERRA Healing Hands. The new HOPE blend was developed and donated to O.U.R. specifically for distribution in high trafficking areas. It includes an 800 hotline number for children who are suffering and in need of help. Read the full story and consider donating to O.U.R. today!


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Human trafficking is a worldwide epidemic. What can you do in your own community to stop it?

In the month of June, O.U.R. volunteers around the world are holding yard sales and donating the proceeds.

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This Teacher Walked 500 Miles To Spread Awareness of Human Trafficking … And He’s Doing It Again

This Teacher Walked 500 Miles To Spread Awareness of Human Trafficking … And He’s Doing It Again

“My message is the only way to fight human trafficking is a network of communities working together to prevent it and stop human trafficking from existing. It’s been around for hundreds of years; we just keep renaming it. I think it’s time for everyone to realize slavery is slavery, and we need to do something to stop it.”  

– Barry Jurgensen

Barry Jurgensen will be walking with a purpose as he takes his second 500-mile journey from Omaha to Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

This graduate of Dana College and history teacher will be taking the time to visit in the cities he passes through to spread awareness of human trafficking through Walk Forever Free 2017.

In fact, this is the second time in only two years that he’s doing this trek. Last year, he went from Nebraska City to Chicago, raising $27,000 for the nonprofit, anti-human trafficking organization, Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives. This organization has a focus in education within schools and their communities.

For this year’s effort, The Set Me Free Project, I Have A Name, the Coalition on Human Trafficking and the Central Nebraska Human Trafficking and Immigration Outreach have all partnered with Jurgensen.

 

(image source: enterprisepub.com)

Why Nebraska?

 

This year, the Human Trafficking Initiative released a report revealing that the commercial sex trade had managed to spread statewide across Nebraska. About 900 people are sold as sex slaves monthly, according to the report.

Some of the cities Jurgensen stopped in were selected according to the information that was in the report. Many of the cities Jurgensen has chosen to walk through were prevalent in the study. He claims, “The most beneficial thing is to meet people. Then, they introduce you to other people.”

 

(image source: enterprisepub.com)

Students and Colleagues In the Cause

 

Amber Sims, an English educator, helped in organizing both of the treks. She says that this walk continues because the issue still exists.

“I know last year when he was in Chicago, we felt a great sense of accomplishment with everything we did and we have a lot to be proud of, but we both said we weren’t done,” She said. “I think today and the start of this walk is a testament to the fact that we’re not done and the work isn’t done and it won’t be done until slavery doesn’t exist anymore.”

 To Sims, working locally was important.

“You can’t look elsewhere until you try and do something here,” She said.

Senior, Grace Volk, also shares Jurgensen’s passion in fighting human trafficking

“I don’t think a lot of people know it is even here, especially in Omaha, Lincoln and all those places along major highways,” she said. “I don’t think people know what a big problem it is. They think it is just overseas or in developing countries. I think it’s really nice to show people that it’s a problem here so we can help stop it.”

Ross Miller, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln student and AHS grad, participated in 2016 and now walks with Jurgensen to Omaha.

“He’s been a great influence on my life,” Miller said. “What he does is awesome to spread awareness for human trafficking, and I just want to be a part of that.”

See the original article on enterprisepub.com


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Do you want to join a movement like this on behalf of O.U.R.?

Check out the O.U.R. Phoenix Rescue Run! You can also support the event outside of the Phoenix area by running wherever you are through a virtual sign-up to donate to the cause.

You don’t have to walk to spread awareness. SHARE this article.


 

O.U.R. NOW AN OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED CHARITY IN MEXICO

O.U.R. NOW AN OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED CHARITY IN MEXICO

HAILEY HENDRICKS | UPR

Utah-based Operation Underground Railroad, an anti-human trafficking organization, has become an officially recognized charity in Mexico. By declaring itself as a charity, the organization will be able to host fundraisers to raise money and awareness for child exploitation operations in the country.

Matt Osborne, O.U.R.’s senior vice president for rescue and rehabilitation, said he is looking forward to partnering with the Mexican Government to further rescue and rehabilitate trafficked and victimized children.

“A lot is said in the press about Mexico,” Osborne said, “The problems they have with organized crime, drug trafficking, but we’ve seen a real dedication, commitment to fight child exploitation. We see men and women and the federal police in the attorney general’s office, in the Mexican Congress, in administrative interior, willing to work with us.”

Since opening its operations in Mexico in 2015, O.U.R. has rescued 42 victims and has assisted in the arrest of 17 traffickers throughout the country.

Osborne said these efforts to help trafficked children would not be made possible without the help and support of Utahns due to their willingness to donate, spread awareness and to help in the investigations and operations.

“We’ve been very blessed to be supported here by Utah,” Osborne said. “We look forward to working to support all the dedicated men and women in US law enforcement and law enforcement around the world to fight this horrific crime.”

Click here to read and hear the story from Utah Public Radio.