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Media coverage about Operation Underground Railroad

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!


What can YOU Do?

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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.

Join the fight. SHARE this article.

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


What can YOU Do?

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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.

CHILD SEX SLAVES RESCUED BY ANTI-TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATION WITH PARTNERS IN INDIA

CHILD SEX SLAVES RESCUED BY ANTI-TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATION WITH PARTNERS IN INDIA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 9, 2017

**MEDIA ADVISORY**

CHILD SEX SLAVES RESCUED BY ANTI-TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATION WITH PARTNERS IN INDIA

Operation Underground Railroad partners with Indian counterparts to bring down child sex trafficking ring

Washington, D.C. – U.S.-based anti-human trafficking organization Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) collaborated with local partners and law enforcement to rescue four children from being sold as sex slaves in Mumbai, India. The sting operation concluded with the arrest of four traffickers who are set to be charged in the local Sewri Court. After being medically cleared by a local hospital, the girls were brought to a shelter where they can begin their rehabilitation and restart their lives away from slavery.

Local partner Indian Rescue Mission (IRM) collaborated with O.U.R. upon receiving information that a male pimp was marketing a young girl’s virginity for 30,000 rupees ($450). Working alongside local police, the undercover team arranged for the traffickers to bring four girls to a hotel under the premise that they would be sold as prostitutes. Upon exchanging money, local police swarmed the hotel, arresting the four traffickers which included the hotel owner. Thanks to coordinated efforts of all parties involved, the four victims can work towards putting their pasts behind them and transitioning into leading a normal life. “It’s operations like these that bring us one step closer to eradicating this modern day slavery around the world,” said O.U.R. CEO Tim Ballard. “By giving local law enforcement the capacity to take down traffickers, we are empowering them to take a leading role in this fight and strengthening their ability to stop trafficking in their communities.” This year alone O.U.R. and IRM have partnered on four operations throughout India which have resulted in 16 rescued children and 18 arrested traffickers traffickers.

Operation Underground Railroad is registered 501(c)3 organization. Bringing together former CIA, Navy SEALs, and Special Ops operatives, O.U.R. partners with local law enforcement agencies around the world to save children from this modern day slavery. Founded by CEO Tim Ballard in 2013, O.U.R. has rescued more than 650 victims and helped arrest over 275 traffickers worldwide.

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Tim Ballard and Mia Love meet with President of Haiti

Tim Ballard and Mia Love meet with President of Haiti

In 1803, Haiti gained independence through a slave rebellion. Three former slaves rallied troops to fight against the colonists and in the process they freed countless slaves. Haiti is the only country in the world that can claim the success of freedom by slave rebellion. If they did it once, they can do it again. This time, the fight would be to end human trafficking, or modern day slavery.

Tim Ballard, Congresswoman Mia Love, and the President of Haiti Jovenel Moise participated in a historic meeting this past Monday to do just that. The purpose of the meeting was to consider what could be done in Haiti to deal with the issue of human trafficking. Trafficking often is an attempt to make money as a result of a struggling economy. President Moise was elected just this last year and has many plans to help the economy grow. Tim Ballard was hopeful when he heard President Moise’s goals for the country. Economic growth plays a critical role in the fight against human trafficking.

Mia Love, the first Haitian-American Congresswoman in the United States, is part of the Terrorism and Illicit Financing Subcommittee and is passionate about the anti-human trafficking movement. She spoke Haitian Creole with President Moise for the majority of the meeting and was pleased to hear about his plans for Haiti. She was happy to connect Tim Ballard and O.U.R. with the Haitian government.

When Operation Underground Railroad was brought up, President Moise was very responsive. He authorized O.U.R. to work with Haitian officers to dismantle human trafficking rings in his country. President Moise also promised to prosecute the sex offenders properly. O.U.R.’s relationship was strengthened with the Haitian government that day, which will be positive for future operations in Haiti.

Towards the end of the meeting, Tim Ballard said, “Haiti is the only country in the history of the world that gained its independence through a slave rebellion. They rose up and created an independent nation and became one of the first countries to eradicate slavery. With such an inspiring history, we are calling upon Haiti to again join the fight to help us end the sex slavery that plagues our world today.”

President Moise and Mia Love have opened the doors for another chapter in the fight against slavery.


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We are grateful for the relationships we build with Haiti and other nations so we can help them eradicate child sex slavery everywhere.

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Tim Ballard Speaks at Summit in Imperial County, Hot Spot for Human Trafficking

Tim Ballard Speaks at Summit in Imperial County, Hot Spot for Human Trafficking

Tim Ballard, founder and C.E.O. of O.U.R., presented at the Second Annual Human Trafficking and Commercial Exploitation of Children Summit in El Centro, Imperial County, California on Wednesday.

“Thousands are smuggled through these ports of entry every year,” Tim says. “The fastest growing criminal enterprise on the planet, [which is] rivaling drugs at this point, is human trafficking.” Sgt. Justin Bostic of I.C. Sheriff’s Office says Imperial County is a major “corridor” to the Los Angeles, San Diego, and Riverside areas.

The summit provided a platform for presenters to show local leaders how to detect subtle cues to identify and assist victims of trafficking. Schools plan to help educate students on modern day slavery, and parents are encouraged to talk to their children about online predators and internet safety.

Tim will work with local authorities in training officers, uniting in the fight against human trafficking. We are grateful for every chance O.U.R. has to collaborate with our local communities to protect more children on the home front.

Read the news article at kyma.com


What can YOU Do?

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If you see something suspicious, report to your local authorities.

“It could save somebody’s life.” – Tim Ballard

Want to see more collaboration with O.U.R. and local law enforcement?  SHARE this article to spread the word.


Ivanka Trump Hosts Anti-Human Trafficking Roundtable Discussion At White House

Ivanka Trump Hosts Anti-Human Trafficking Roundtable Discussion At White House

Despite the political controversy that has ensued since the latest presidential election, Ivanka Trump hosted an anti-human trafficking meeting in the White House last week. She also organized a listening session in February, and was in attendance with President Donald Trump, her father.

The Purpose of the Meeting

“We have been conducting interagency meetings to understand the scope of the issue (of human trafficking), as well as gathering recommendations from the academic, public and private sector,” Ivanka Trump explained. “Today, we bring an additional and critical group to the table, legislative leaders, to discuss concrete steps through legislation.”

According to CNN, Ivanka Trump met with bipartisan, bicameral lawmakers.  This included House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Heidi Heitkamp, and various anti-human trafficking experts. Klobuchar, Corker, and Heitkamp each have experience in combating human trafficking in the Senate.

Combating Trafficking and Child Protection Week

Ivanka Trump further declared this week to be “Combating Trafficking and Child Protection Week” in Congress. She expects nine pieces of legislation that will deal with human trafficking directly.

For the original article, visit cnn.com (Image source: wikimedia commons)

Please note: Operation Underground Railroad remains nonpartisan with no political affiliations or bias, but will acknowledge all efforts made, especially by those of influence, in fighting human trafficking.

Dignity Health Will Help Healthcare Organizations Identify Victims of Human Trafficking

Dignity Health Will Help Healthcare Organizations Identify Victims of Human Trafficking

By Steven Ross Johnson  | May 16, 2017 | modernhealthcare.com

San Francisco-based Dignity Health unveiled new guidelines on Tuesday for healthcare organizations to identify and respond to patients suspected of being human trafficking victims.

As human trafficking incidents including prostitution and forced labor continue to rise, the healthcare industry offers a unique opportunity for human trafficking victims to seek help, as they are usually kept hidden as part of their captivity. Dignity Health spent the last three years developing its own human trafficking response program and is sharing the lessons it learned with other providers.

“Being in healthcare I think offers a unique opportunity to connect with a person and to potentially view for red flags that are observable,” said Holly Gibbs, director of human trafficking response at Dignity Health. “It can provide a setting where there’s more trust between a patient and a provider, and so you may be able to ask certain questions without the threat of authorities getting involved.”

Nearly 60% of healthcare professionals have never received training to identify human trafficking victims, according to a 2015 study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Dignity’s recommendation includes encouraging healthcare professionals to focus particularly on assessing patients in vulnerable populations—such as children, undocumented immigrants, the homeless and those with substance abuse or behavioral health disorders.

Reported incidents of human trafficking—whether it’s in the form of prostitution or forced labor—have increased in recent years. In 2016 the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported more than 7,500 cases of human trafficking in the U.S., a 35% increase over the 5,544 cases reported in 2015 and a 130% rise compared to the number reported in 2012.

“It’s just not something really on doctors’ radar,” said Jacqueline Bhabha, a professor at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

If patients show fearful or submissive behavior, physical signs of abuse or have a controlling companion with them, those may be indicators they are a human trafficking victim.

Read the rest of the story at modernhealthcare.com (photo source: gettyimages.com)


What can YOU Do?

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If you ever witness a situation suspicious of human trafficking,

please call the human trafficking hotline at 1 (888) 373-7888

Global Child Porn Investigation Leads to Rescue of 296 Children and 900 Arrests

Global Child Porn Investigation Leads to Rescue of 296 Children and 900 Arrests

Steven W. Chase, the creator and admin of what may have been the largest child pornography website worldwide, has received a 30-year prison sentence.

His website ‘Playpen’ ran on the Tor network, a platform that caters to anonymous communication and criminal activity through “hidden service” websites. Members could upload and go through tens of thousands of child pornography media, all sorted by their age, gender, and sexual activity. Chase started the site in 2014 and had more than 150,000 users globally.

“We were only able to pull it off with a lot of support from our international partners and field offices,” said Special Agent Dan Alfin. He investigated the case as part of the Bureau’s Violent Crimes Against Children section.

Although the case for the FBI opened just after Playpen went live in 2014, “given the nature of how hidden services work, there was not much we could do about it [at the beginning]” Alfin recalled.

However, the situation took a turn in December 2014 when Chase himself accidentally revealed Playpen’s IP address. The address displayed a U.S. location, drawing the attention of a foreign law enforcement agency, and prompting them to involve the FBI.

“From that point we took normal investigative steps—seized a copy of the website, served search warrants for e-mail accounts, followed the money—and everything led back to Steven Chase,” said Alfin.

Chase received his sentence in North Carolina for his involvement in child exploitation and pornography. He wasn’t alone of course. His two co-defendants- Michael Fluckiger, 46, of Indiana, and David Browning, 47, of Kentucky, both admins for the website, received 20-year prison sentences this year. These were only the admins of Playpen- more needed to be done.

Operation Pacifier commenced through the partnership with the FBI and the Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section in January of 2015. Agents found IP addresses along with over a thousand national leads, which the FBI received. Partners overseas received thousands more, explained Alfin.

Europol, (the European Union’s law enforcement cooperation agency​), Israel, Turkey, Peru, Malaysia, Chile, and Ukraine all reported arrests. Other participating international agencies include CNCPO Polizia Postale e Comunicazioni of Italian State Police​, the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency, and New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs.

“Members of his enterprise who were raping children, who were producing child pornography all around the world—those cases continue to be indicted and prosecuted,” Alfin says.

According to the FBI, the website has been taken down, and as of May 4, 2017, this investigation has produced the following:

  • At least 350 U.S.-based individuals arrested
  • 25 producers of child pornography prosecuted
  • 51 hands-on abusers prosecuted
  • 55 American children successfully identified or rescued
  • 548 international arrests, with 296 sexually abused children identified or rescued.
  • there have been 900 arrested, and 296 children rescued.

Although Playpen has been gone for two years now, there is an unfortunate number of other websites continuing to exploit and abuse children.

“It’s ongoing and we continue to address the threat to the best of our abilities,” said Alfin. “It’s the same with any criminal violation: As they get smarter, we adapt, we find them. It’s a cat-and-mouse game, except it’s not a game. Kids are being abused, and it’s our job to stop that.”

Visit fbi.gov for the full news report.


 

What can YOU Do?

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If you ever witness an incident involving child pornography, file a report on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)’s website at www.cybertipline.com , or call 1-800-843-5678.