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Media coverage about Operation Underground Railroad

Human Trafficking In Plain Sight: Are You Unknowingly Supporting It?

Human Trafficking In Plain Sight: Are You Unknowingly Supporting It?

(Image from fresnoeoc.org)

Human trafficking is a worldwide problem, and it’s growing. There are an estimated 45.8 million people who are enslaved today. However, this crisis is not distant. We as Americans unfortunately interact with and often even support this epidemic every day without knowing.

According to former assistant district attorney of New York City, Barry Koch, the these victims are everywhere and hidden in plain sight. With drug dealing taking first, human trafficking and arms dealing tie for second as the largest criminal industries in the world. Yet human trafficking is experiencing the most rapid growth.

The facts:

  • Over 14 million are forced into labor.
  • According to the International Labour Organization, forced labor generated $150 billion in 2015.
  • Construction, manufacturing and mining compose over half of the human trafficking labor force.
  • 4 million of those trafficked are female; 9.5 million are male.
  • Refugees especially are at risk.
  • 4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation.

The U.S. State Department explains, “The old way of slavery was that the boss really owned you… But now legal recruiters and employers work in tandem to deceive workers who, vulnerable and isolated in a strange culture, are forced to accept harsh terms. It is in that context that you have endemic forced labor today.” Human trafficking knows no race, religion, culture, age, or sex. Everyone needs to be made aware.

According to Dr. Annalisa Enrile, clinical associate professor of USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, says, “When we talk about trafficking, most people assume we are just talking about sex. But there are actually more people enslaved through labor trafficking. Millions more. Impoverished communities, migrant workers and children are all at risk.”

According to the Urban Institute’s 2014 report, Hidden in Plain Sight, 71% of the labor trafficking victims (in the study) came to the U.S. legally with working visas. These are the most common industries where forced labor occurs:

  • agriculture
  • fishing
  • construction
  • factory work
  • domestic servitude

These victims are often separated from others with no documentation, keeping them under the radar. A San Diego State University study found that in San Diego County, 31% of undocumented, Spanish-speaking migrant workers had experienced labor trafficking. How do we find the perpetrators? Possibly the best way to find out is to follow the money. There are individual people, organizations, businesses, and even governments that thrive off of human trafficking.

According to Koch, “We can make a difference in the fight against labor trafficking and labor exploitation by passing laws (and monitoring for compliance) that regulate supply chains. Consumers can refuse to purchase goods from retailers who use trafficked labor or child labor in their supply chains. Institutional investors can divest their positions in such companies.”

For the full article, visit forbes.com

 


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As consumers, it takes conscious effort to buy fair trade items,
or items not made under harsh labor conditions. 
Check out some helpful apps here to help fight the demand for human trafficking.
 
Sen. Hatch Joins The Fight to Help Prevent, Rescue & Heal Trafficking Victims

Sen. Hatch Joins The Fight to Help Prevent, Rescue & Heal Trafficking Victims

(Image: Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune)

On Wednesday, Senator Orrin Hatch joined Tim Ballard, founder of O.U.R., at Younique Foundation Headquarters in Lehi, Utah, to discuss prevention against child sex trafficking. Joining them was Chris Yadon, founder of Younique Foundation, and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. Together they will be working to empower and expand law enforcement tools.

Ballard provided an update to when he testified and helped pass the International Megan’s Law (HR515), in May 2015 to limit sex crimes domestically and internationally. Regarding the passing of the law, he stated, “[it] is such an important bill that has passed, but it has not been implemented or funded yet which is why we are making it a priority. It’s sole purpose is to protect children from being exploited.”

“This is really an epidemic that is totally wrong,” Hatch said. “Of all the criminal activity I’ve seen in my years in the United States Senate and before as an attorney, I’ve never seen anything more despicable, more rotten or dirty or terrible than child sex trafficking.”

Operation Underground Railroad has conducted 76 rescue operations since its founding in 2014, with over 650 victims rescued and 270 traffickers arrested. “Our problem is their problem. Their problem is our problem. It’s an international problem,” Ballard said.

Upon viewing O.U.R.’s documentary The Abolitionists last year, Hatch said, “O.U.R. is a powerful force for good in the fight against child sex trafficking. Across the world, the organization has liberated hundreds of children from the hell they were lured into by evil and designing men. As you will see, Tim is at the forefront of O.U.R.’s mission, leading sting operations in countries and continents across the globe. He is a hero in every sense of the word. I wish to thank Tim for his courage, his service, and his sacrifice.”

This partnership stands as a reminder to all, that it is necessary for a diverse influence of forces to unite in order to rescue the millions of exploited children from the darkness. The union of hearts and minds from varied parts of the political and private spectrums carves the way to eliminate the odds. The harsh reality is that victims will not be saved without the light from the neighbor or the legislator, the donor or the rescuer; resources and strengths that a private sector cannot accomplish alone.

“There is much darkness in this world as we all know. Tim and his team see this every day,” Hatch said. “Today, our focus is not on darkness, but on light. Our focus is on the great work these organizations are doing to help others overcome the darkness and reclaim hope.”

 


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Unity is necessary to end human trafficking.
Inspire others to come together by sharing this story. 
WHAT DOES O.U.R. DO IN UTAH?

WHAT DOES O.U.R. DO IN UTAH?

Here is what Operation Underground Railroad has been up to on the home front in 2017.

FREE AT LAST EVENT

On January 17, O.U.R. Volunteers gathered at the Crossfit O.U.R. gym to organize hundreds of hygiene kits and care packages for our Aftercare program to deliver to survivors. Children’s toys, soccer balls, granola bars, and toiletry items were donated.

 

VALENTINE’S DINNER

 Thanks to doTERRA, The Rock Church, Missio Dei, and the nearly 300 incredible volunteers, we were able to hand out 93 bags of hope, blankets, and Valentine’s Day cards to incredible women from The Road Home shelter in Salt Lake City. The event was held at Caputo’s Market & Deli in downtown with The Rock Church. Many of these women, who have been through so much, came up to our team with tears in their eyes saying, “This has truly been a magical night. Thank you for making us feel valuable and beautiful!”

O.U.R. Aftercare also has plans to support Red Light Outreach which ministers to girls in this very area.

 

ST. GEORGE TRAINING

In January 2017, St. George Police Department reached out to O.U.R. for assistance with an investigation targeting numerous massage parlors suspected of using trafficked foreign nationals to provide illegal services to customers. O.U.R. partnered with SGPD providing resources and assistance with translation services for the foreign national victims and witnesses. The successful collaboration showed how SGPD and O.U.R. could set the standard for such public-private partnerships. 

This is a sample of the kind of operation O.U.R. assisted with.

(photos from TheSpectrum.com)

O.U.R. is so grateful for our many supporters inside the state of Utah and throughout the rest of the world who help us further our mission to rescue children from slavery and assist law enforcement in the prosecution of trafficking offenders.


 

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To stay informed on O.U.R. updates, text “UPDATES” to 51555.

Spread the word of the good that O.U.R. and volunteers are involved in.  SHARE this article.

CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING RESCUE GROUP COMPLETES SUCCESSFUL OPERATION IN HAITI, SAVING 29 GIRLS

CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING RESCUE GROUP COMPLETES SUCCESSFUL OPERATION IN HAITI, SAVING 29 GIRLS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FEBRUARY 21, 2017 

* * MEDIA ADVISORY * *

CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING RESCUE GROUP COMPLETES SUCCESSFUL OPERATION IN HAITI, SAVING 29 GIRLS

Operation Underground Railroad partnered with Haiti’s Minor Protection Brigade in undercover sting, arresting 9 traffickers 

WASHINGTON, D.C.–  Today, Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) announced that the group, partnering with Haiti’s Minor Protection Brigade (BPM) and Haitian authorities, has successfully completed Operation Sainte Jou (Holy Day), an undercover rescue mission that resulted in the arrest of 9 traffickers and rescue of 29 girls suspected to be sex trafficking victims. O.U.R. went to Haiti at the invitation of BPM and acted under legal authority of the Haitian government. O.U.R. spent two months, alongside Haitian officials, developing this investigation, meeting with the traffickers,  and setting up the operation to ensure the safety of the victims and jump team. 

“This counts as one of our most successful operations to date. More than two dozen girls are now liberated, and with our continued support, do not have to return to a life where they are victims of the most depraved and evil in society. We hope to continue partnering with Haitian authorities to share and learn new investigation techniques and technology to ensure that pedophiles who prey upon the young have no place visiting Haiti. We are impressed with the Haitian government’s desire to do the right thing. O.U.R. remains committed to doing all it can to empower law enforcement in the U.S. and around the world to fight horrendous crimes of child exploitation and trafficking, ”said Founder and CEO of Operation Underground Railroad Tim Ballard.  

O.U.R. has built a rehabilitation groundwork with the government and local partners to ensure victims can return to their parents where possible or into vetted safe houses where not. The local aftercare experts met with the girls directly after the operation and were able to meet with many of their parents to provide them with anti-human trafficking awareness and sensitivity training. O.U.R.’s work continues around the world. Since it was founded in 2013, Operation Underground Railroad has rescued 641 victims and arrested 273 traffickers. 

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 NewsABC Nightly News,  Fox News Sunday, PBS Religion and EthicsThe Washington PostThe New York Postand The Blaze among others. 

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This man helped free 29 women and children from sex trafficking

This man helped free 29 women and children from sex trafficking

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Ex-CIA analyst Tim Ballard is now a sex-trade investigator — and he just cracked a major ring in Haiti that liberated 29 young women and children.  170220-tim-ballard-feature

It was all in a day’s work for Ballard, who teams with a nonprofit called Operation Underground Railroad, made up of former members of the US military who use their know-how to battle child-trafficking and sex slavery in countries where the practices are common.

The Haiti operation, called Sainte Jou — Creole for Blessed Day — led to the arrest of nine suspected sex traffickers on Feb. 5, Super Bowl Sunday, by local authorities, who worked in tandem with the US organization.

“We are not a rogue agency, we are not vigilantes,” said Matt Osborn, a CIA and State Department veteran, who helps Ballard direct the group’s operations.

They target locales notorious for sex trafficking and then set up complex sting operations to nab the pimps and free the young women and girls.

In Haiti, a sting was set up at the Kaliko Beach Club, a high-end resort on the west side of the island of Hispaniola, which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

On Feb. 3 and 4 — as Americans were preparing their Super Bowl parties — Osborn said a team of 25 men began flying in to “play the role of middlemen for wealthy American pedophiles.” They organized with the pimps to line up local girls — some as young as 13 — for an orgy.

“The average price we were going to have to pay was $300 for each girl, for what was billed as a sex party of four to six hours,” Osborn said.

By Sunday, a yacht moored off-shore was made to look like a wealthy party boat down from Florida for the weekend.

Most of the undercovers were wearing flip-flops and shorts and playing ball on the beach to give off a party vibe.

Ballard, who worked for the Department of Homeland Security as a special agent, met face-to-face with the pimps and recorded the details of the deal to hand over to Haitian authorities, who swooped in to break up the sex ring.

The US State Department said Haiti only passed legislation criminalizing sex trafficking in 2014.


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Human Trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise.  It is a $32 BILLION industry.
It needs to stop and together we can make that happen!

Ashton Kutcher tears up as he urges Senate to fight sex slavery

Ashton Kutcher tears up as he urges Senate to fight sex slavery

Ashton Kutcher gave a moving speech to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about ending sex slavery on Wednesday.

“This is about the time, when I talk about politics, that the Internet trolls tell me to stick to my day job,” the actor said. “I’d like to talk about my day job. My day job is the chairman and the co-founder of Thorn. We built software to fight human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children. My other day job is that of the father of two, a 2-month old and 2-year-old.”

Kutcher, 39, shares daughter Wyatt and son Dimitri with wife Mila Kunis.

He then described joining the FBI in raids in India, Russia, Mexico and stateside in New Jersey and New York.

“I’ve seen things that no person should ever see,” he said, tearing up. “I’ve seen video content of a child that is the same age as mine being raped by an American man that was a sex tourist in Cambodia. This child was so conditioned by her environment that she thought she was engaging in play.”

               Ashton Kutcher chokes up.

He continued, “I’ve been on the other end of a phone call from my team asking for my help because we had received a call from the Department of Homeland Security, telling us that a 7-year-old girl was being sexually abused and that content was being spread on the Dark Web … They’d watched her for three years and they could not find the perpetrator, [and were] asking us for help. We were the last line of defense. An actor and his foundation were the last line of defense.”

“I had to say no and it devastated me, it haunted me,” Kutcher said, choking up again. “For the next three months I had to go to sleep every night and think about that little girl that was being abused and the fact that if I built the right thing, we could have saved her. Now, if I got that phone call, the answer would be yes.”

He then recalled the story of “Amy,” a 15-year-old girl from Oakland, Calif., who was forced into trafficking within hours of meeting a man in person she’d first talked to online. “This isn’t an isolated incident. There’s not much that’s unusual about it,” Kutcher said. “The only unusual thing is that ‘Amy’ was found and returned to her family within three days using a tool we created … called Spotlight.”

Kutcher said the tool aids police in cutting investigation time by 60 percent, adding, “That’s my day job and I’m sticking to it.”

It wasn’t all heavy: Kutcher and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had a lighthearted moment after his speech. “You were better looking in the movies,” McCain said.

Kutcher, blowing McCain, 80, a kiss, replied, “My wife says that, too.

What Can YOU Do?

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Good News Florida: Operation Underground Railroad Rescues Children

Good News Florida: Operation Underground Railroad Rescues Children

Thank you Good News Florida and Tami Gomez for helping us shine a light on the dark world of Human Trafficking. Article below:

Human trafficking is a horrible evil present in our world today. Worse than simple trafficking, however, is child sex trafficking; a booming criminal industry that specializes in providing depraved individuals with children to satiate their perverted desires. These children are often sold multiple times per day to such individuals to be used, humiliated and abused, and passed along. These children are human beings made in the image of God, who are being treated so horribly. Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) has dedicated itself to freeing children from these appalling situations and getting them safely back to their families or to new families.

OUR, based out of California, is a non-profit organization that rescues victims of exploitation and human trafficking around the world. According to Osborne they have operated in fifteen countries worldwide including Colombia, Haiti, India, Thailand and others. While their focus is on children, OUR saves people of all ages. Over the course of three years, they have rescued about 600 individuals from some of the darkest possible situations.

OUR works in various ways to bring sex traffickers to justice and free their prey. They always work with local authorities to capture and bring offenders to justice. Matt Osborne, senior vice president for Rescue and Rehabilitation, said that OUR serves as a “force multiplier” as they help fill financial, training, technology and personnel gaps in the countries in which they operate. In some cases, that means helping train officials to be able to handle trafficking situations more effectively for themselves.

Rescue

In other cases, OUR brings in their own personnel to handle a situation. Their fully trained operatives, called the Jump Team, will pose as American child sex tourists to be able to capture the criminals who exploit children. Once money changes hands, local authorities come in SWAT-style, arrest the perpetrators and take them to be tried in a court of law. Due to the dangerous nature of these operations, many Jump Team members will pray before, during and after operations for safety and a successful mission.

When asked if his job is hard and if all the danger is worthwhile, Osborne responded, “It is difficult to have to play the role of the American child sex tourist and have the girls look at you as if you were really a disgusting predator who was going to do wicked things to them.  However, it is all worth it in the end when you have the chance to help pull someone out of the hell in which they are being forced to live.”

Rehabilitation

Once children have been pulled out of this torturous life they were forced to lead, they are rehabilitated with their families or with new families who will take them in and care for them. This is where Jessica Mass, director of Aftercare, comes in. Mass stressed the fact that they vet homes thoroughly before placing a child in one and, once placed, stay connected and help provide therapy, vocational training, funds for college and help meet other needs. Mass said, “We believe in helping restore lives and empowering voices of our little ones to a life of freedom, full of love and vision for their future.”

Working in this field exposes one to some of the greatest evils that happen on planet earth and can bring doubts and pain to rescuers and caregivers. But, according to Mass, it’s all worth it in the end: “I see the journey of healing and lives restored to the purpose God has for them. There is always hope! I believe there’s hope for everyone through the power of the gospel.” She firmly believes that, despite the evils plaguing the world, God has placed OUR in it to make a difference and to help rescue and restore his children.

OUR makes it easy to make a difference in the world. Becoming an Abolitionist is the easiest way for anyone to get involved. By donating at least $5 per month, you can become an Abolitionist and know that your money is going towards freeing children from this sickening exploitation physically and giving them the opportunity to become free spiritually. You can also sign up for updates from OUR to be informed about when they have made a rescue and to better know how to pray for them. OUR will assist anyone who is interested in doing awareness campaigns for human trafficking. Companies can sponsor vocational training programs through OUR, as well. If you purchase anything from their website, www.ourrescue.com, one hundred percent of the proceeds will go right back to furthering their efforts to rescue children. For those unsure of how to help, visit their website, get informed and “spend time asking God what you can do to protect and love His children,” said Mass.

A native-born Miamian, Tami Gomez is a freelance writer for the Good News while she and her husband attend Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina. They hope to become missionaries to the Far East.

Operation Underground Railroad Rescues Children

What YOU Can Do?

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Want to become an Abolitionist? Sign up here.

Tony Robbins: When a Dream Bucket List Leads to Change

Tony Robbins: When a Dream Bucket List Leads to Change

We are so incredibly grateful for Tony Robbins, his outstanding team and his generous supporters. They have been able to help us save dozens of children from slavery so far.

Watch the video below to find out how Tony came to find out about Operation Underground Railroad & you will be amazed what happens next.

The next time you think, “I’m just 1 person, I can’t possibly make a difference.” Think again!

Operation Underground Railroad Wins Humanitarian Award

Operation Underground Railroad Wins Humanitarian Award

9th Annual Mobile Excellence Award Winners Announced

Innovators in Mobile Entertainment and Technology Recognized at VIP Events in Hollywood

January 27, 2016, Los Angeles, CA—The Mobile Excellence Awards (MEAs), now in its 9th year, honored the 2016 Best of Mobile winners at two exclusive events attended by leaders representing the entire mobile ecosystem: entertainment, technology, media, and marketing.

Industry luminaries and global media outlets gathered at Soho House–the luxurious private club in West Hollywood–to celebrate achievements by companies and individual executives who have furthered the mobile industry and impacted how the world engages with mobile devices. Winners and key influencers were also treated to a networking breakfast the following morning at Cecconi’s, renowned for its chic environment and power player meetings. 

Known as ‘The Oscars of Mobile’, the MEAs has seen even more dramatic growth in the industry this year, particularly in video. “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the level of innovation and creativity we saw in this year’s entries,” noted Sarah Miller, CEO of Axis PR & Entertainment, who is Executive Producer of the event. “As we enter our 10th year, it’s clear that the determination and sheer brilliance in the leadership of these companies are transforming the world we live in. It’s a fantastic time to be in mobile.”

Awards are greatly coveted, with winners drawn from a high caliber submissions pool from studios, brands, content providers, start-ups, products, carriers, and more. Categories address a range of mobile lifestyle experiences, including everything from video, music, games, social engagement, philanthropy, information, and wellness to shopping. The organization takes pride in recognizing both rising stars and established leaders at the top of their game.  

“We’re very excited that the Mobile Excellence Awards is heading into its 10th year with new partners, sponsors, innovators and leaders who have been instrumental in shaping the future of mobile,” said Miller. “We know that it’s the people who make this the special gala that it is, and appreciate the support from the community and event staff. It’s gratifying that we all share the same commitment to this dynamic industry because we believe in the positive impact mobile has had on our daily lives.”

The 9th Annual Mobile Excellence Awards are produced by Axis PR & Entertainment and sponsored in part by globally recognized companies such as Intel, El Rey Network, AstologyZone,  ITV Alliance and others. More information can also be found at   www.mobilexawards.com.

 

9th Annual Mobile Excellence Award Winners

Best Humanitarian

  Operation Underground Railroad

Industry Star

Intel

Mobile Ambassador

  Anjali Shastri

Best Branded Experience Made for Mobile

   Futurama: Game of Drones 

Best Delivery Platform for Mobile

OpenMarket

Best Entertainment Related Marketing Campaign

       Univision for La Conecta App

Best Mobile Payment/Commerce

   DailyUse Mobile Wallet 

Best Kids Content for Mobile

       Ormco Corporation: Bethany Hamilton Damon Smile Emoji Keyboard

Best Live Streaming or Video for Mobile

AWE

Best Mobile Analytics/Big Data

       Drawbridge App Traction Index

Best Mobile App/Service for Connected Daily Lifestyle

      IHG Translator App

Best Mobile Game(s)

    Futurama: for Game of Drones

Best Mobile Innovator

 Xpose, Inc.

Best Mobile Product

     Huawei for HUAWEI MateBook

Best Mobile Sports

    Augusta National Golf Club and IBM’s 2016 Masters Golf Tournament App

Best Mobile Utility /Productivity Application for on a Smartphone or Tablet

ChatWork

Best Multinational Company

Brandtone

Best Original Content for Mobile

Kings of Fi$h

Best Social Community for Mobile

 CI&T for Sprite RFRSH Na Lata

Best Technology Breakthrough

 Tangoe for Mobility as a Service (MaaS)

Best User Experience for Mobile

     SapientNitro for Minneapolis Institute of Art

About Mobile Excellence Awards

The Mobile Excellence Award organization is one of the most coveted and prestigious events in the mobile industry.  Coined as the “Oscars” of Mobile, the MEA organization recognizes and honors leaders  and innovation in mobile entertainment and technology across the globe.  The MEAs produce various high level and high profile events for visionaries and leaders by offering knowledge exchange, peer networking, market intelligence and recognition through various programs throughout the year.  In addition, MEAs’ holds the most prestigious annual awards event in the industry, honoring excellence in all segments of the mobile ecosystem. For more information, please visit www.mobileXawards.com.

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