Browsed by
Tag: Abolitionists

Sex Trafficking In The Modeling Industry

Sex Trafficking In The Modeling Industry

 

By Monique Derr –

Her mind raced as the modeling agent urged her to lift her dress higher. She was alone in the room. It did not feel right, but she wanted so badly to make a good impression and get the photo shoot job. Perhaps she was just being too cowardly? Maybe this was how it was supposed to work? “Higher,” he said, as he circled her with his camera. Finally, heart racing, she dropped her dress and asked why it was necessary to show so much skin. “That will be all,” he said, and he left.

She did not get the job. It was not until years later that she learned her gut feeling had been right, that she had been wrongfully pressured, and that the man posing as a modeling agent was, in fact, a predator who was later sentenced to jail time for exploiting young girls with big dreams.

Sex traffickers find ways to target and deceive vulnerable girls in many ways, and aspiring models have become a major focus for some of these predators. “Sex sells,” says world fashion mogul Stacy Eastman. “It is rampant and selling everywhere.”

As an impressionable young man, Eastman studied the fashion industry with some of the best and brightest. “I went to Milan, Paris, and London as an intern, and was head hunted by the most powerful man in fashion, John Casablanca,” Eastman said.

After 10 years with Elite Model Management, Eastman decided to form his own management company and Pulse Management was born. Unaware of modern day slavery in the industry he had reached great success in, he initially sought to put his experience and energy into a model management company that ethically cared for the talent they represented. “I set out to bring morals and standards to the entertainment industry through schooling, healthy eating habits and sports, and really the betterment of the person.”

Eastman then became a husband and father, and was introduced to the reality of sex trafficking through the fictional movie Taken, and he became enthralled with learning more.

“Having spent my life in the entertainment industry, I’ve seen a lot of people sell out and it disturbed me greatly. So I started researching to see if people posed as fashion moguls for this same purpose. Right then, I knew I had to stand and make even more of a difference,” he stated.

Eastman came across Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), and started digging and learning all he could. “I bought tons of products in support and became, as they say, an abolitionist,” Eastman said. He has since found valuable ways to support O.U.R. and fight sex trafficking within the fashion industry and has played an active role in bringing awareness to the issue.

Pulse Management uses social media and their personal blog as a platform to educate their followers on how traffickers prey on models. They are able to spread the messaging and warning to millions of people through their clients and connections.

Public Relations and Online Media Director Lisa Hong Ballstaedt explained, “We have many followers who want to be models; they could easily be preyed upon because they want it… We want to be a voice of awareness for them.”

On a more personal level, Eastman is able to create dialogue with strangers who ask about the O.U.R. dog tags around his neck, which “I have never taken off,” he noted.

Stacy Eastmand being interviewed at the movie premier
Stacy Eastman being interviewed at the movie premier

Pulse Management has also hosted screenings of the movie, The Abolitionists, and works tirelessly to ensure the safety of the models they represent. Ballstaedt stated, “We protect our models…sex should never be a factor in a modeling photo shoot…we try to be a light in [what can be] a dark industry.”

For those who are pursuing a career in modeling, Eastman has some pieces of advice to ensure safety and legitimacy in potential opportunities:

  • Research the agencies. Check to see if they have a legitimate track record with the actual companies, designers, magazines, and so forth, that they claim they work with.
  • Confirm that they have strong character references from actual models and their parents who they say they manage.
  • The “agency” should never make or force you to wear something that is not age appropriate and/or shoot sexually explicit material.
  • Make sure that parents are always welcome to travel with their daughter, no matter the model’s age.
  • Never pay for “modeling schools.” There are really only three USA markets: NYC, which is number one in the world, Miami, and LA. Travel is mandatory.

O.U.R., unfortunately, has seen many modeling schools used as a cover up for traffickers to prey on the innocent. Unsuspecting parents are lured by promises of a successful modeling career for their children, only to never see then again.

In O.U.R.’s Operation Triple Take, potential sex victims were rescued from suspected traffickers who used former Colombian beauty queen Kelly Johana to entice them. You can read that story here. 

“We spend thousands of unpaid hours ensuring our clients are globally protected with their parents and their futures in mind” said Eastman. Anything less should be a red flag.

Pulse Management demonstrates well the value of contributing to the fight against sex trafficking by means of personal talents and influence. “I adore my wife and two girls, let alone ALL my clients who happen to be beautiful, smart, and athletic girls. I could not bear to see this (trafficking) happen and their innocence be destroyed. So I’ve tried to do all I can and will continue, period!” Eastman exclaimed.

It is important to recognize that any person or organization, with any background, is in a position to join this fight. There are many opportunities to fight sex trafficking, and everyone has a role they can play to stop it.

O.U.R. is grateful for the example Pulse Management has set, and for the work they do to protect young girls with big hopes and dreams. Their work can inspire others to take action against sex trafficking as well. Everyone has something to contribute in this fight.

Loftii Is Supporting O.U.R. and You Can Too!

Loftii Is Supporting O.U.R. and You Can Too!

Help O.U.R. earn $25,000 – it costs you nothing!

So many of our great supporters have wondered how else they can support our cause. We’ve got great news: now, you can actively make a difference and support Operation Underground Railroad in your every day life in a new way. We’re thrilled to announce our new partnership with Loftii.

When you shop using Loftii, up to 5% of your online purchases will be donated to Operation Underground Railroad. It is free for you and we get a donation every time you make a purchase. Not only that, it is super easy. We’ve been using and loving it for a couple months now and have been able to purchase some new surveillance equipment with the donations we’ve generated. With back-to-school around the corner, you can feel good knowing that each online purchase you make is helping rescue a child.

Additionally, during the month of July, Loftii will donate an additional $5 per person who signs up – on top of the retailer donation. Our goal is to get 5,000 people to sign up this month for a $25,000 donation – help us by signing up today. Link

 

CrossFit O.U.R. 2016

CrossFit O.U.R. 2016

 

 

If you live in Utah, there’s a great and easy way for you to help support Operation Underground Railroad. Come work out with O.U.R. jump team members at CrossFit O.U.R. in Draper, Utah. Coach Drew Rykert will get you in shape in no time at all, and who knows, maybe you’ll even get to go on a rescue mission.

O.U.R. founder and CEO Tim Ballard personally chose Rykert to run the CrossFit O.U.R. gym due to his experience and commitment to O.U.R. Rykert was already running his own CrossFit affiliate where Ballard and other jump team members were previously working out. Soon both Rykert and his wife became jump team members and participated in several rescue missions.

“CrossFit O.U.R. is for everyone, says Rykert. “Since opening our doors, we’ve had all walks of life come through and that is just what we wanted. This has helped us grow organically and develop a culture where everyone knows your name.”

“Couples continue to be a strong addition and we have started an O.U.R. CrossFit KIDS/TEENS program on Mondays and Wednesdays at 4 pm. We also offer KID CARE at 9:30 am and YOGA at 7 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 7am on Saturdays. There is a FREE introductory session every Thursday at 6 am and 6 pm.

Many generous partners are supporting the O.U.R. gym as a means of consistent revenue including WODOmation, Bam Bams BBQ, HYLETE and Kill Cliff and we are extremely grateful to them.

CrossFit O.U.R.
CrossFit O.U.R. Gym

The 8,000 square feet gym was built with donations from private donors and includes a 70 foot Pull Up Rig, Olympic lifting equipment and the best coaches that are trained and certified.

CrossFit O.U.R. is a for-profit gym that started up last September with the intent of helping cover O.U.R.’s administrative costs. With over 100 members and climbing, it’s doing just that. “This way money that comes into Operation Underground Railroad for rescues missions can go directly to saving kids,” said O.U.R. COO Jerry Gowen. The ultimate goal for gym enrollment is 300 members.

Come get in shape and support the organization that rescues children from sex traffickers. CrossFit O.U.R. is located at 13648 S. 200 W. in Draper, Utah. For more information go to our website: CROSSFITOUR.COM

Written by: Cheryl L. Karr

 

 

12-Year-Old’s Best Gift Of ALL

12-Year-Old’s Best Gift Of ALL

 

By Caleb Larkin –

Twelve-year-old Rocco Cooper, from Dallas, in an ultimate show of selflessness, gave up what most boys his age think about more than anything else: birthday presents.

Cooper decided that for his twelfth birthday party on May 14th, 2016, instead of asking for presents, he would ask his friends to come with a receipt for their donation to Operation Underground Railroad. He was ecstatic at the positive response in both amount given, and possibly more important, how everyone got involved.

“I already have so much in my life and a lot of kids don’t have what I have,” Cooper said. “I knew that something simple, like giving up birthday presents, is a small sacrifice, but can hopefully make an impact.”

At twelve, Rocco has been interested in soccer, football, golf, piano and violin, as well as involved in his local boy scout unit, where he has many opportunities to be an example to those around him.

The Cooper family found out about Operation Underground Railroad’s mission through listening to the Glenn Beck radio show when O.U.R.’s founder and CEO, Tim Ballard, told of the horrors of modern day slavery.

“He’s my oldest son, and it is a sensitive topic,” Rocco’s mother Clairissa Cooper explained. “So it’s hard to know what you want to share with your kids. I felt my son was mature enough that he could understand what was going on.” She felt the mission held enough importance that her child could also make a difference. “It’s one of those organizations that is worth getting involved with,” Cooper said.

Clairissa did see the $165 donation from the boys as significant, but likely surpassing the monetary value, her son spread awareness of O.U.R.’s important mission.

“The reaction was really positive. A lot of the parents were really surprised, but excited to learn about the organization,” Clairissa said. “I would even suspect they donated more than they would have spent on an actual gift.”

Rocco first got involved after his mother received the Abraham Lincoln “Abolitionist” T-shirt as a result of signing up for the $5-a-month Abolitionist program. “I ordered the wrong size and then had the opportunity to explain to Rocco what the organization was about because it fit my son perfectly,” Clairissa said.

Rocco with Syblings
Rocco (C) with Siblings

Rocco then wore the shirt to school when his sixth grade class had a discussion about slavery. He introduced the organization and how slavery exists today and in what form. From then on he knew he really wanted to help these kids.

The Coopers live in an affluent part of Texas. Clairissa readily realizes that her children, Rocco, 12, and his two younger siblings ages ten and six, are surrounded by peers who have an abundance.

“It is a priority for me to help my children recognize the blessings in their lives and also how to use those blessings to help and serve others. I want them to see beyond comic book heroes and see what true life American heroes are doing in the name of O.U.R. rescue,” Clairissa explained. “This birthday experience expanded not only my son’s perspective on life, but that of his friends and their families as well. Sharing the stories of O.U.R. rescue with our children will spread hope and awareness, and raise a generation of men and women who can make this world a better place.”

Her son Rocco agrees, and feels like many more can get involved, even children just like him. “You can give up a Christmas present, do side jobs, or just give from your allowance,” he suggested as ways to help donate to O.U.R.

His purpose and selflessness is catching on already. “One kid came up and said what I could earn from presents to others, so he did it too,” Rocco said.

Rocco feels this birthday is not one he’s likely to forget. “It was a very positive experience, here we are still talking about it, even though it was a month ago. It left a lasting impression on me,” he said.

“It really wasn’t a sacrifice either. I was just happy to do it,” Rocco further confirmed.

After The Abolitionists Movie Premier

After The Abolitionists Movie Premier

 

Silence is not always golden. In fact, many injustices continue today because those who would fight against them are not aware they even exist. Such is the case with child sex trafficking and slavery – until now.

The feature-length documentary The Abolitionists premiered in theaters nation-wide May 16th, enlightening audiences who previously were blissfully unaware of this dark side of the world.

They now know that child sex slavery is one of the biggest plagues of our day and is growing by the minute. Sweet, innocent children, are kidnapped, sold, or tricked into becoming sex slaves and movie stars of pornographic videos. It is real. It is happening. And it needs to be stopped.

The Abolitionists is the story about a former CIA officer and HSI agent, Tim Ballard, who unwillingly became exposed to this dark side of humanity during his 12 years with the government.

It only took one rescue for Ballard to realize these children needed saving. Since then he has left government service and begun his own non-profit organization, Operation Underground Railroad, to rescue these children.

Movie theaters were sold out across the country for the premier. Some were bought by modern-day abolitionists who are doing what they can to help rescue these children. Other theaters, simply sold individual tickets. The Larry H. Miller Theaters donated all proceeds of the movie to O.U.R. for the rescuing of children – a very generous gift.

Current estimates put viewers at around 35,000 for the May 16th event. Exact figures are still coming in. Reactions have been inspiring. People have been shocked, saddened and amazed at what is happening to children around the world. Here are just a few of the comments from viewers:

“When I saw the movie The Abolitionists, I was heartbroken at just how many innocent children are being forced to be trafficked and forced to be sex slaves.” William Billiam

“Well done. Didn’t like the subject matter, but that’s why it made an impact. God bless this film and the light it is shining on human trafficking.” Helen Matter

“Very inspirational and informative for everyone. We really need to work together to stop human trafficking.” Melissa Peters

“As dark as the subject matter is, I love the hope and light that are fighting the darkness!” Jenn Foote

A movement has begun. Since the premier of the film on May 16th, volunteers are signing up with O.U.R. in record numbers to help rescue these children.

“It has been amazing to see the response of people after they have seen the film. They are motivated and ready to do all they can to put an end to this atrocity,” said O.U.R.’s National Volunteer Coordinator Jani Dix. “People are willing to give their time and talents and truly believe they need to be part of this solution. There is a lot of darkness in this world and you see that in the film, but there is also so much light and the O.U.R. volunteers are a testament of that.”

Since the premier of the film, over 550 volunteers have signed up to help O.U.R. fight this plague, bringing together an army of 1300 worldwide to rescue these children. And there is something everyone can do.

You don’t need to donate money to help, although that is a great way and very much needed. Many volunteers offer their talents to the cause. Some are helping by organizing events, some are writing articles or giving presentations that spread the word. We encourage you to help in whatever way you can, because once you know this is going on, it is very difficult to do nothing.

Helen Keller once said, “I am only one but still I am one. I cannot do everything but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

Tim Ballard saw something wrong and is doing what he can to right it. “My goal is to eradicate this heinous crime all around the world. That may take some time, but I believe we can do it.”

What will you do to help? Visit our website at ourrescue.org to discover the many ways you can make a difference.

If you have not been able to see the movie, The Abolitionists yet, you can request it to play at your local theater by inquiring at  http://theabolitionistsmovie.com/contact/.

Becoming A Global Force For Good: The Creation of CET-COE

Becoming A Global Force For Good: The Creation of CET-COE

CET-COE – Becoming A Global Force For Good

Child Exploitation Targeting Center of Excellence

By Caleb Larkin

Operation Underground Railroad is taking a great leap forward in the fight against child sex slavery and expanding its influence and outreach with its first Child Exploitation Targeting Center of Excellence (CET-COE) http://ourrescue.or/technology.

The center opened June 8th in Charlotte, North Carolina as a start to establishing a technological foothold in various parts of the world. This new center shows the progress O.U.R. is making in the fight against sex trafficking.

The main purpose of this and future CET-COE locations is to provide law enforcement with the vital targeting and intelligence analysis capabilities needed to fight the exploitation of children. An added bonus is having central locations where our jump teams can be working with the intelligence and targeting teams along side law enforcement.

O.U.R. partnered with Delitor Inc, and the University of North Carolina to work with the many organizations, government and non-governmental organizations alike (NGOs) to develop new software to identify victims and perpetrators.

O.U.R.’s Law Enforcement Services Director, Dale, referred to the new opening of CET-COE as a successful collaboration. “I was very pleased with the support from the local community and especially our law enforcement partners who were very eager to have more tools at their fingertips in the fight to end child sex slavery.”

The center is an essential step forward for O.U.R.’s goal to establish a real physical presence domestically and abroad. “The purpose of this CET-COE is like a fusion meeting or enforcement center,” Dale explained.

The center in North Carolina and future ones like it are designed to aid law enforcement in bringing about the end of child exploitation in every form by leveraging information from known pedophiles in order to find victims and their perpetrators.

“Everyone felt like focusing these expansions on technology was the best way to have an effect on a global level,” Dale emphasized. As technology advances, O.U.R. understands that everyone and everything uses technology to further their purposes today, including human traffickers. The centers will help O.U.R. stay ahead of criminals by using software to help track and identify trends and threats throughout the world.

“As nice as it would be to have a jump team in every city, it’s just not feasible. But having this technology everywhere is,” Dale said. “Getting the software to identify child traffickers, that is something we can accomplish and are now working towards it.”

O.U.R.’s founder and CEO, Tim Ballard, has always had a vision to have an O.U.R. office in key locations to quicken response times and have closer interactions with in-country law enforcement. “We’re extremely thrilled to be rolling out O.U.R.’s Center of Excellence on the UNC – Charlotte campus,” Ballard said.

“Technology and the internet is what enables so much of the sex trafficking that occurs in the United States and around the world, but with the right tools, we can use our own technology to combat these criminals who prey on our children and the world’s most vulnerable who fall victim to trafficking and pornography.”

The facilities will allow O.U.R. to have our own people at each CET-COE location, instead of having to plan out operations in the U.S. and then transfer people and equipment to the mission location.

“We think of it like this: The U.S. has headquarters in D.C., but we have embassies in other countries. So this is like an O.U.R. embassy where we have headquarters at these different facilities,” Dale said. “We plan to build targeting packages, develop research in select locations and work with local law enforcement in these areas.”

The CET-COE project has met several challenges along the way – the first being funding. “It’s an expensive project, especially to get the talent and experience needed to run these centers,” Dale explained. “We need people who are extremely invested and it’s harder to get people in place with the expertise needed while taking a pay cut.”

Another difficult challenge came in selecting the ideal location for the site. “We have to balance proximity to law enforcement for easier access and keeping the center isolated enough to keep the data protected, “ Dale explained.

Despite these ongoing challenges, Dale sees the establishment of the center as a “huge step toward becoming a global organization and extending O.U.R.’s reach.” He expects the future expansions to be equally significant. “We have been trying to establish ourselves as a global organization. This will actually establish a footprint in multiple countries across the globe,” said Dale.

O.U.R. plans to continue to open these centers to increase their global reach, influence and presence in an abolitionist movement. The next CET-COE facilities are planned to open in late summer and fall of this year.

“We are choosing certain areas and locations to expand to first, but eventually we would like a CET-COE in every part of the world,” Dale said. “This is a huge sign of success for O.U.R. It signifies we are prepared to expand and combat slavery in all corners of the globe.”

 

 

 

Standing Shoulder To Shoulder In Cambodia

Standing Shoulder To Shoulder In Cambodia

By Caleb Larkin

In Asia alone, there are approximately 13.5 million human sex trafficking victims according to the U.S. State Department’s “Trafficking in Persons Report” (July 2015, http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/245365.pdf). The U.S. State Department also estimates about two-thirds of all human trafficking victims worldwide reside in Asia. One organization located at the heart of the issue in Cambodia is working to change those numbers and save lives.

“One girl is too many. One day is too long.” is a motto that Agape International Missions (AIM – http://agapewebsite.org/) lives by. Operation Underground Railroad established a recent partnership with AIM to provide resources, such as funding and training. In 2016 alone, AIM and O.U.R.’s joint efforts have already led to five rescue operations with 22 victims rescued and seven traffickers arrested.

AIM, which has been fighting sex trafficking since 2005, has rescued 539 victims and estimates it has had an immediate impact on over 10,000 people by rescuing, restoring and reintegrating victims, as well as, directly preventing sex slavery in Cambodia.

Ashleigh Allard has been the Development Coordinator at AIM since October 2015. “I don’t think I understood the gravity of the issue before working with AIM. It’s hard to calculate the number of children who are being trafficked for sex,” she said. “We’ve rescued girls as young as four years old. Hearing that would break anyone’s heart.”

“Operation Bullhorn” was the most recent mission where O.U.R. provided training and funding for AIM’s rescue. On March 29th, AIM’s rescue team freed six minors and three adults in a massage parlor front for human trafficking. Phnom Penh’s Department of Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Services arrested one trafficker in the raid on the parlor in the Kendall province in Cambodia. After a two-week undercover operation, AIM uncovered evidence that indicated the parlor manager was selling the children for sex. AIM has since relocated the six minors to a rehabilitation center to assist in the recovery process.

Allard explained the partnership with O.U.R. provides AIM with resources and support to enhance their ability to conduct recovery operations in Cambodia. “The rescue side of what AIM does aligns with O.U.R.’s mission,” she said. “O.U.R. helps provide the funds for raids.” This partnership is vital to O.U.R. in expediting our ability to connect with the existing law enforcement, aftercare, and community to enhance their role in eradicating sex trafficking locally.

The goal of O.U.R. is not to liberate every child ourselves, but to empower those agencies already doing great work. O.U.R. is able to enhance their tools and resources so they can have a larger impact and rescue more children while arresting and prosecuting traffickers.  O.U.R. consistently works with law enforcement so that the traffickers can be arrested through proper legal channels.

AIM’s goal focuses on four main areas: prevention, rescue, restoration, and reintegration. The organization has set up 12 different programs all focusing on some aspect of their goal. AIM owns and operates two transitional homes. These homes focus on victims 18 and older to find employment, receive counseling and “get back on a good trajectory for a successful life.”

In addition to their transitional homes, AIM owns three employment centers to help victims reintegrate and promote prevention of human trafficking through sustainable jobs. “One of these employment centers employs members of the community known for generational sex trafficking. Providing sustainable jobs breaks the cycle of exploitation,” Allard said. AIM also owns a retail store, Made, to help fund their efforts, an emergency family care center, an elementary school, and a gym called The Lord’s Gym, which focuses on kickboxing, allowing men to come in and train. Allard explained this key to help in prevention; to get men and others involved in a different cause, one that appeals to them such as kickboxing.

The Lord’s Gym is a preventative measure to help keep those who may be susceptible to evils of sex trafficking, on the right track and away from desperate and terrible mistakes. AIM feels it’s vital to get involved with the community before sex trafficking seeps into an individual’s life in order to complete eradicate sex trafficking.

“Brandon”, the director of regional operations with O.U.R., works closely with AIM’s operations in Cambodia. Brandon praised AIM’s efforts not only on their rescues, but also on the rehabilitation side. “AIM is very focused on the rehabilitation process,” he said. “They have a Muay Thai fight school. It’s a very good connection to the locals and helps in that rehabilitation process. AIM does a really good job of helping the victims go to the communities where they come from.”

Brandon, with a 20-year military background in special ops, as well as a Master’s degree in forensics and training by the Department of Defense in Trafficking in Persons, recognizes the strength a partnership with AIM gives to combating sex trafficking in Cambodia. “O.U.R. really wouldn’t have been able to work in Cambodia without this partnership,” he said.

“It would take years of work to establish ourselves in Cambodia, but when we partner with an organization, we can get the work done more quickly.” He also explained that the funds O.U.R. provides to AIM equates to a fraction of the cost to send jump team members there in just airfare and hotel cost. Brandon feels the partnership helps cut costs and allows O.U.R. to work with AIM instead of “reinventing the wheel.”

With the five joint operations in 2016 with AIM, Brandon has seen the benefits of working together towards a common goal. From first establishing the connection with AIM, to the most recent success with “Operation Bullhorn,” Brandon continues to play a vital role in providing training and funding to AIM’s effort to curb the human trafficking infection in Southeast Asia.

How can people get involved?

One way that people can get involved is being educated on the issue. There are organizations all over the world that are combating this issue. We all are capable of fighting the issue, using the talents, abilities and skills we already possess. Allard feels that people need to find a niche they are passionate about and follow it. “No matter where you live, there is likely an organization that is fighting human trafficking,” she said. “Just being aware of the issue, however, isn’t enough. We need people who are willing to act.”

Sex Sting Nabs Alleged Child Predators

Sex Sting Nabs Alleged Child Predators

Posted: Friday, May 6, 2016 in the Appealdemocrat.com

By Monica Vaughan/mvaughan@appealdemocrat.com

The child sex sting that led to a Yuba City planning commissioner’s arrest and subsequent resignation was part of a months-long, resource-intensive operation that resulted in criminal charges filed against five other men.

The most recent arrests were Tuesday night, when two men were hancuffed and questioned after they separately showed up at a meeting location where they presumably planned to have sex with 9- and 14-year-old girls.

“They’re predators in our community. They’re looking for kids to have sex with. Grown men are looking for children to have sex with,” said Jason Parker, chief investigator at the Sutter County Districk Attorney’s Office, which is coordinating the stings.

“When we set operations up, we know these guys are out there. Our goal is to go after them.”

While similar stings have been conducted across the country for years, this is the first sting in Yuba-Sutter to focus on child sex crimes. It was created and led by District Attorney Amanda Hopper, with support from the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office, the Yuba City Police Department and an outside organization, Operation Underground Railroad.

“Much of public safety is reacting to crime after it occurs. This operation was proactive,” Hopper told the AppealDemocrat in her first public statements about the operation.

Men who were arrested in the Sutter County stings are accused of reaching out to what they believe to be people offering children for sex. They allegedly clearly communicated what they would do with the minors, and showed up at a pre-arranged meeting, presumably with the intent to rape or molest children.

Defense attorneys representing men arrested in the stings, who were contacted by the Appeal-Democrat, said they were not yet familiar enough with the operation to provide a statement.

While the sting operation is seemingly bait to trap would-be perpetrators, Deputy District Attorney Clint Curry said it isn’t entrapment.

“A person is entrapped if a law enforcement officer engages in conduct that would cause a normally law-abiding person to commit that crime,” Curry said. “It’s an objective test. It doesn’t matter subjectively what’s in the suspect’s mind. It looks at behavior of the government agent.”

In this operation, detectives don’t offer people any motivation or reason to come to the meeting, he said. For example, he said, they don’t say “If you have sex with this child, she will be freed from slavery.”

Staff from Operation Underground Railroad assisted the agencies in implementing the plan.

“We’re a small rural community with limited resources,” Hopper said. “Operation Underground Railroad provided the support, experience and education and resources that we would not otherwise have.”

“One of the things the District Attorney’s Office agrees with Operation Underground Railroad in, is the need to educate people about how real child sexual exploitation is, and that it’s here and it’s everywhere.”

Each operation required hours of commitment from officers in three law enforcement agencies, Hopper said.

Details were not immediately available about how much staff time the operation cost.

“Every person there (Tuesday) had already worked full days and nights, and then more days. They put in the hours because they wanted to, because they had the opportunity to do good for Sutter County and to protect its children,” Hopper said.

Sheriff J. Paul Parker said it’s “absolutely” worth it for four or five of his deputies to work flex time or overtime to participate.

While most arrests of suspected sexual predators are made after a victim comes forward, the crimes the men caught in this sting operation allegedly committed have no real victims.

“It’s cheaper to intercept (these crimes) before they occur than after they occur,” he said.

After a sex crime has been committed against a child, “you have a victim, someone who has been traumatized for the rest of their life. How do you put a monetary value on that? You can’t.” This (operation) is a fiscally conservative approach,” Parker said. I think it’s been very successful.”

The suspects

The seven arrested men don’t seem to share any traits aside from their gender.

“We’ve seen 18-years-old, 50-years-old, economically well-to-do and we’ve seen dirt poor. We’ve seen different racial groups represented,” said Deputy District Attorney Clint Curry. “The only thing they have in common is they have a penis.”

Aside from Ivin Rhyne Jr., a former Yuba City planning commissioner who works with the California Energy Commission, most of the men caught in the sting live in the Sacramento Valley, but outside of Yuba-Sutter.

Jeffery M. Albo, 50 from Washington state, told investigators he was in the area as a contractor for three weeks at Beale Air Force Base.

Albo and Timothy L. Neher, 40, were arrested Tuesday evening, after they separately showed up at different times at the meeting location. Both are married with children, according to court documents.

Charges filed against them in Sutter County Superior Court on Thursday include felonies for attempting to perform sexual acts with a child and for arranging and appearing at a meeting with the intent to perform sex acts with a child. The most serious count is punishable by night years in prison.

Law enforcement officials involved in the operation say the men are predators, and the operation allows those men to be weeded out. The point was argued Thursday during Albo’s arraignment in front of Judge Christopher Chandler.

Although Albo has no criminal history, “This is the kind of crime that happens in secret,” Curry said. “It takes a lot of resources for law enforcement to ferret out.”

Albo’s attorney, Chris Carlos, argued Albo has never been arrested, and it’s “not appropriate to say he might have something out there. (He has) no criminal history.”

Assuming Albo did what officers say he did, “he made a mistake,” Carlos told the judge.

How it works

Each sting operation requires weeks of preparation. From start to finish, some 20 officers are involved.

“Every cop who works these goes, ‘This is what law enforcement is about. This is what I always wanted to do’,” Parker said.

On Tuesday evening, more than a dozen detectives gathered at a remote location to await the arrival of a suspect. Undercover officers posed to meet the suspect, as clearly armed officers on arrest teams waited nearby, prepared to cuff the suspect after a signal was communicated.

The suspect said he would meet at the spot when he left work.

In the days leading to the meeting, he and a few other men communicate with an undercover detective who claimed to have access to children available for sexual acts. There was no discussion of an exchange of money, only an interest in sex with children.

Audio and video surveillance was wired in the meeting location, which officers observed in a nearby room.

“Our hopes would be that we set up an operation and have no one respond,” Parker said.

That hasn’t been the case. At least on arrest has been made each of the five times detectives set up a location. On several occasions, men have expressed interest and arranged a meeting but never showed up.

“That’s not a bad thing,” Hopper said. “If they are legitimately hesitant about raping children, I want them to back out.”

The first target suspect on Tuesday did not back out. As soon as he arrive, he was arrested. During a search, officers found in his possession condoms and a bottle lubricant, Parker said.

He gave short answers.

Detectives off-site listened to the interview through a baby monitor.

After he was driven away to be booked into Sutter County Jail, detectives stayed on site and prepared for the next suspect’s arrival.

Arrested and charged

David Ignacio Chavarin, 33 of North Highlands.

Nicolas Davide Brown, 26, of Oroville.

Howard Montenegro, 44 of Sacramento.

Timothy Leroy Neher, 40 Chico.

Jeffery Michael Albo, 50, of Edmonds, Wash.

Professional baseball player observes sting

Former White Sox baseball player Adam LaRoche was present with Sutter County law enforcement officers to observe a child sex sting operation on Tuesday evening.

“After my experience overseas, I went on a quest to find out more about trafficking. That’s when I cam in contact with Operation Underground Railroad and was invited to Sutter County,” LaRoache said in statement provided to the Appeal-Democrat.

“Everyone who was present in Tuesday’s operation has an interest in protecting children,” said Sutter Coutny District Attorney Amanda Hopper, whose office coordinated the sting.

 

 

WHAT’S IN A NUMBER? #Rescue 500

WHAT’S IN A NUMBER? #Rescue 500

Total To Date: 529 Rescued – 182 Arrested
(2014-2016 )

In April 2016 O.U.R. hit the 500 mark for the number of rescues of victims of sex trafficking. Far more than its founder, Tim Ballard, was able to accomplish in the 10 years he worked with Homeland Security rescuing children from sex traffickers.

Currently O.U.R. is averaging four to five rescues per month. The exact number of victims rescued as of this writing is 529, but Ballard will tell you it’s not the numbers that count. “We are action focused,” said Ballard. The quantifiable numbers show our progress, but they only tell a part of the story.”

One of the most important areas of success can’t really be measured. It is the deterrent effect. And that is the result of catching traffickers and pedophiles before they can get to their targets.

“There are children out there right now who will never be trafficked because the people that would have trafficked them are in jail,” said Ballard. “And they don’t even know they would have been trafficked because it never happened. You can’t measure that.”

The second deterrent is the fear of getting caught. With O.U.R.’s successes, many traffickers are now afraid to sell children where O.U.R. has been operating, and pedophiles are afraid to buy them. O.U.R.’s jump team verified this recently when returning to areas where they had previously conducted stings, working undercover, trying to buy children. The traffickers informed them that it is now very dangerous and they will no longer sell children. This is the goal O.U.R. hopes to replicate all over the world.

Operation Underground Railroad first began rescuing children two and a half years ago in developing countries where resources are limited and children are most vulnerable due to poverty and cultural issues. O.U.R. always works within the law and with law enforcement in a public/private partnership that is resulting in a very successful model.

Law enforcement in the United States is taking notice of O.U.R.’s impressive record in these developing countries and some areas of the country are now partnering with O.U.R. to help supplement their meager budgets since O.U.R. does not charge for their services.

To date O.U.R. has helped law enforcement in the U.S. rescue eight children and arrest 47 potential pedophiles. And according to O.U.R.’s COO Jerry Gowen, the arrests are the number we should be paying attention to because for every pedophile taken off the streets, numerous children will never be violated.

O.U.R. is leveraging technology to help eradicate pornography and shine a light on the problem of child sex abuse in the United States as well as other countries. “We’re helping rescue children in so many ways,” said Gowen. As we get more resources we’ll do even more.” O.U.R. is currently operating in Southeast Asia, South, Central and North America and The Caribbean with the goal of one day eliminating child sex trafficking all over the globe.

Written by: Cheryl L. Karr

Aftercare with O.U.R.

Aftercare with O.U.R.

Editor’s Note: The following description of Operation Underground Railroad’s Aftercare program is written by the director of aftercare for O.U.R. and is intended to give you an idea of how O.U.R is helping the children it rescues. 

The keyword in Operation Underground Railroad Aftercare truly is “Collaboration”.

We are committed to the journey of supporting survivors in their healing process. At this time, O.U.R. has found the most effective model is partnering, empowering and supporting in-country organizations, safe homes and aftercare centers.

Through collaboration we have been able to support the care of survivors far beyond what we would have been able to do on our own. In order to be most effective, we believe that people who have already invested years in the country are the experts and understand the culture far greater than those who do not live there. It is the desire of O.U.R. Aftercare that we come in with a servant’s heart and an empowering spirit.

Aftercare also works directly in collaboration with the O.U.R. Jump Team and government officials to communicate the needs and potential aftercare centers for children. We then assist in the communication to the center about upcoming rescues and the predicted needs, such as additional social workers and medical professionals in-country.

It is the current practice of O.U.R. Aftercare that before an operation, we build partnerships with in-country aftercare centers that will be able to provide quality holistic care through the healing process of the trauma of trafficking. We believe in ensuring that a survivor has the resources to receive as much aftercare services as needed. We also continue to build on the generous support of individuals and corporations to increase the amount of humanitarian aid and aftercare assistance from O.U.R.

Due to the generous support of many individuals and partnerships, we are also able to provide humanitarian aid based on the need and specific request of the aftercare center. We believe in providing strategic humanitarian aid that is empowering to the center’s short and long term goals.

Summary:

We believe that established, vetted aftercare centers are the experts in their country and we are servants. Servants that believe in empowering dreams, visions and hope for each survivor’s future. United we stand in the fight against human trafficking and the healing process of victims that become thriving survivors.