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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

What can YOU Do?


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 (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 |

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 (photo source:

What can YOU Do?


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 for the full news report.


What can YOU Do?


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

O.U.R. Team Spotlight: Matt Osborne

O.U.R. Team Spotlight: Matt Osborne

Matt Osborne is a real life hero; the kind that stories are written about and the kind that you cannot forget. Brave, driven, focused and committed, Matt continues to blaze a trail in the fight against modern day slavery.

As Senior Vice President for Rescue and Rehabilitation at Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), Matt rescues and ensures rehabilitation for children trafficked and sold into sexual slavery in the U.S. and around the world. Since joining O.U.R., Matt has led a number of rescue operations that have resulted in the liberation of some 120 trafficking victims and the arrest of almost 40 suspected traffickers.

Matt’s commitment and passion for guarding others from harm became clear after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Matt felt strongly about protecting his country and began working in national security, a decision that led to a twelve-year career with the CIA and later the Department of State. During that time, Matt worked with issues of terrorism against the U.S., chemical and biological proliferation and the war in Iraq, and ensuing insurgency and political transition after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

An important aspect of Matt’s work for the federal government was providing classified information to U.S. Presidents, senior cabinet officials and the National Security Council. He served overseas tours as a Foreign Service Officer in places such as Spain, Mexico and Venezuela, focusing on issues of terrorism, counter narcotics, and human trafficking. During these tours, Matt organized visits for high profile government officials such as President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He also worked on the Department of State’s Trafficking in Person’s (TIP) Report, which further opened his eyes to this terrible crime.

Matt first met O.U.R. founder Tim Ballard back in 2000 at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS), both as graduate students and Research Assistants at MIIS’s Center for Nonproliferation Studies. They remained in contact over the years, and when Tim started O.U.R. in late 2013, he strongly encouraged Matt to join the fight against child exploitation and human trafficking. Matt was impressed by how quickly O.U.R. was progressing. He could see Tim’s passion and commitment, and had also seen the caliber of his work in his role with the federal government. Ultimately, it was the cause of fighting for innocent children that won Matt’s heart and allegiance.

Matt joined O.U.R. in August of 2014 and the vision became clear: the O.U.R. jump team could be what he calls a “force multiplier.” Matt felt that those in the U.S. government and in select countries around the world were doing exemplary work saving kids, but with more resources from O.U.R., these officials could simply do more to fight child exploitation.

Matt had enjoyed both serving his country and traveling the world in a government career, which had availed him many opportunities and privileges such as meeting presidents, prime ministers, kings, princes, and other high profile officials. In leaving the CIA and U.S. Department of State, Matt made the considerable sacrifice of giving up his U.S. government pension, health care, and stable salary in order to fight for the O.U.R. cause. A family man, Matt was grateful that the move to O.U.R. allowed him to move back to Texas with his family. The calling of defending the defenseless had been a continued drive for Matt, and it has now become something to stand up for beyond his own need for professional comfort and security.

In an interview with Matt in late July 2016, he recounted his first days as a jump team member and how things have grown at O.U.R. since the start. He said that initially, O.U.R. needed to reach out to countries to request the opportunity to work with them, and then raise the money to allow the work to be done. Funds raised at that time were just enough for one rescue, and then the process would begin again to find another willing country and raise more money to rescue and rehabilitate. Now, as Matt reports, funding for rescues has increased significantly, and more countries than ever are seeking out the help of O.U.R., causing the number of countries and jump team members hired to lead rescues—and most importantly the number of children saved—to increase as well. The O.U.R. team is getting ever more skillful about how they are building and fundraising, and they are now leaner and able to do more work with less money. What’s more, the individuals joining the jump team are arriving already incredibly skilled.

When asked about O.U.R.’s potential in the near future, Matt says that the focus will be to continue to expand rescue work with partners in the U.S. and overseas. O.U.R. had first concentrated on foreign rescue missions due to the need. However, with more advanced technology, the O.U.R. team has what Matt calls a “comparative advantage,” putting the organization in a position to be even more successful in mission support at home and abroad.

Matt is a native of Dallas, Texas and holds a B.A. in International Studies from Miami University in Oxford, OH, and a M.A. in International Policy Studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. He is married and has two daughters, who he says give him the drive to fight child exploitation and human trafficking every day.

Matt says he feels blessed to be helping kids, and that there is simply no higher cause.

5 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking With #Freedom4All

5 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking With #Freedom4All

#Freedom4All is a campaign Operation Underground Railroad runs every summer until July 4th to increase awareness of modern day slavery and our fight for freedom worldwide.

“July is a time that we reflect on independence and freedom; it is a time that we remember the high price our forefathers paid for our liberty. The #Freedom4All campaign was born to remind us that, although we enjoy unparalleled freedom, over two million children in the world are trapped in sexual slavery. O.U.R’s primary purpose is to rescue and rehabilitate these innocent children,” says O.U.R. Founder and CEO Tim Ballard.

So without further ado, here are the five ways you can help us spread awareness of human trafficking and fight for #Freedom4All!

1. Show It on Social Media!

This is the fastest and easiest way to show your support! For Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, show your support with our Freedom 4 All images.  This will give your followers a chance to learn about human trafficking and further inspire them to do something about it.

For Facebook, we will have a custom #Freedom4All frame to use with your profile picture – coming soon!

For Twitter and Instagram, we have custom #Freedom4All images just for this campaign for you to post. Check them out here. Make sure to repost, retweet, and SHARE from all of our social media channels @ourrescue and use #Freedom4All to spread the word!


2. Sign Up for Thunderclap!

There is a LOT of noise when it comes to posting on social media, so it’s not always easy to ensure our message of freedom is heard. By signing up for Thunderclap, you allow us to share a single message “flash mob-style” on your page.

Last year 518 people signed up for Thunderclap, reaching 720,978 people, meaning 720,978 people heard our message of freedom! This year our goal is to reach at least 1,000 Thunderclap sign-ups! Will you help us reach our goal? Sign up here.

3. Sport the Movement!

There are more ways to spread awareness outside of social media. O.U.R.’s custom #Freedom4All shirt definitely has a patriotic vibe, making it an ideal choice for your 4th of July festivities and will surely pique the curiosity of those around you. It’s an easy conversation-starter to help you share our mission of rescuing children from human trafficking. 100% of your purchase will be donated to the cause. Click here to purchase.

4. Don’t Miss Our #Freedom4All 2017: Message of Freedom!

O.U.R. founder and CEO, Tim Ballard, will be giving a special address on fighting for freedom. His words will inspire you and to those you share. Check out the motivational address he gave for the 2015 #Freedom4All Campaign:

“Slavery does exist today and its tentacles reach further and deeper than most of us realize, with its victims barely surviving in unthinkable darkness. The #Freedom4All campaign is a movement that will shine a light into this darkness and provide a way for each of us to eradicate this evil.”

5. Donate For Freedom!

Everything O.U.R. does to rescue and rehabilitate children is only possible through your donations. Although steps 1-4 help spread awareness, funding is what makes rescue operations possible. You can either donate once, or you can sign up to Be An Abolitionist and donate as little as $5 every month. $5 seems like a small chunk of change, over 6,000 Abolitionists contribute to over 40% of all operational costs. Click here to become an Abolitionist today!


Thank you for spreading the message of freedom this summer!


ABOUT OPERATION UNDERGROUND RAILROAD: Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) is a non-profit organization that rescues kidnapped children from slavery. O.U.R. rescue teams (called “Jump Teams”) are comprised of highly skilled ex-Navy Seal’s, CIA and other operatives. These teams work in conjunction with and in full cooperation with local police forces and foreign governments to liberate children around the world.

The original Underground Railroad was a network that existed in nineteenth century America to liberate African slaves. Today, slavery has a new face: the face of an innocent child. Slavery’s victims today include nearly two million precious children throughout the world. They are slaves, exploited for sex.

The symbol of the Underground Railroad shines through the darkness that surrounds these poor children and offers hope and freedom to children that are abused daily. Thousands of these children are imported every year from third world countries to developed countries, such as the United States and Canada. Operation Underground Railroad can rescue and save them from the horrors of slavery. This is its mission!

O.U.R. rescues these children and delivers them to safe havens that offer freedom and rehabilitation. In the process, O.U.R. expert rescue teams break the avaricious organizations that exploit these children and deliver the perpetrators to justice and jail. Using cutting-edge computer technology and human intelligence, O.U.R. rescue teams go into the darkest corners of the world to help local law enforcement liberate enslaved children and dismantle the criminal networks. #freedom4all



Blake Lively Speaks Out Against Child Pornography

Blake Lively Speaks Out Against Child Pornography

It isn’t very often that a Hollywood star speaks out about the realities of child pornography during an awards ceremony. Blake Lively did just that for a surprising eight minutes during Variety’s Power of Women: New York on Friday.  As an honoree, she spoke in support of Child Rescue Coalition, which finds and exposes IP addresses of producers and viewers of online child exploitation.

She touches on her experience when a law enforcement officer gave her the devastating details.

“I was afraid to ask as a mother, you know, because it would be painful to hear, and I felt like I had to ask though, and I feel like I have to share it with you guys now. It is disturbing and I want to warn you, but I feel that it is my responsibility to tell you guys because it is the truth and I believe that if we all knew this, we would dedicate much more of ourselves to stopping it.”

“It isn’t happening rarely, it’s not happening worlds away, it’s happening here and right now.”

Here are some of the hard facts she mentions:

There are 30-50 million files traded on the net per day.

Only 10% of children speak up when abused.

The average abuser abuses between 50 and 100 children in their lifetime.

Lively raises a call to action, hoping big names can work to expose this industry together.

We commend Child Rescue Coalition for their influential role in assisting law enforcement to expose this evil, and we admire Blake Lively for using her voice to help more people understand what can and needs to be done to stop it.

What can YOU Do?


Because of technology today, child exploitation unfortunately has no boundaries. What will we do to stop it?

We hope this woman’s speech inspired you as much as it inspired us. SHARE this story.


Human Trafficking Survivor Builds Rehab Home

Human Trafficking Survivor Builds Rehab Home

This human trafficking survivor isn’t just fixing up a house for other women like her, she’s aiming to provide them a safe haven from the life she once knew.

“I don’t want to see the women having to go back to the lifestyle from which they came,” Barb Freeman said, founder of The Freeman Project in Columbus, Ohio.

Freeman’s mission is to give a home to human trafficking survivors as they transition from local rehabilitation and correction facilities. Because of these efforts, she was named the Woman of Achievement in 2014 by the YWCA.

She’s not alone in this great feat. About twenty-five volunteers from her community and the local Union of Painters and Allied Trades have been working alongside her in restoring the three-story home.

At least four women have already been promised a place in the home, but Freeman won’t stop there: she plans to purchase the abandoned apartment complex across the street.

As Freeman works to educate her community about human trafficking, she says, “[I’m] just taking everything that someone has given to me and I’m giving back. I’m paying it forward.”

Freeman expects renovations to be complete by August.

For more on this story, visit

(Images from

What can YOU Do?


Whether you’ve been given a fresh start in life or feel inspired to join the fight, you can follow this woman’s example to pay it forward.
Go to to start your own fundraising campaign or project today!
Spread the word. SHARE this article. 




It is no secret that several members of the Operation Underground Railroad team are spiritual in their own ways. Many of our operators pray together while out on a rescue operation, while others choose to meditate or worship in their own way. Some of our Aftercare homes also have a religious base and will often send us prayer requests depending on their needs at that time.

Because of that, we welcome your prayers, positive thoughts, or energy to strengthen our various efforts- from success in our rescue operations, to health and a better future for our teenage survivors and their babies.

We are creating a specific list for those who would like to join!

Let’s stand together with our operators, Aftercare homes and survivors in this battle to lift them up in prayer, thoughts and most of all in love.

By signing up for this list, we will inform you of prayer requests from our Operators or Aftercare specialists who are facing unique challenges.

Subscribe by texting “OURPRAYERS” to 51555, or enter your contact information below.

Mobile messaging powered by Mobilecause



Tim Ballard, founder of Operation Underground Railroad, along with SVP of Rescue & Recovery Matt Osborne, gave Glenn Beck some “behind-the-scenes” details today about the latest rescue operation in South America, Operation Chiquitos – III.

It was definitely a more unique situation than Matt’s team normally expects.

Thanks to the great relationship O.U.R. has with the federal government, the ops team was given the green light to send operators to find intel in the outskirts of the country. Three men went undercover on a fishing cruise about two months beforehand, where by word of mouth they learned of a high school physical education teacher who was grooming and pimping out his students at his weekend barbecues.

On the day of the operation, Tim asked that a Prayer Request be sent out to our social media platforms, in hopes that Matt and his team may have success.

Thankfully, they pulled through with rescuing 9 victims and arresting 3 traffickers.

Aftercare was immediately on the ground with what would be the equivalent to the country’s Child Protection Services. Depending on local jurisdiction, our Aftercare team usually has just a short time with survivors. In this case, they were able to stay days after to assist local officials and give the parents anti-trafficking training.

Here’s an exclusive inside look at the conversation leading up to the successful rescue:

My cell phone rang. It was Tim.

“We need to pray for Osborne and his team– Right now.”

“He ok?”

“He and his team are going undercover shortly; there are a few moving parts that are complicating things. Everything should be fine, but he’s asked for us to pray, that’s all.”

“Will do.”

“Hey, why don’t you make a meme and post it on our social channels? Let’s send this out to our Abolitionists and for anyone who wants to join in with us.”

“On it.”

People pray for us all the time, but we have never publicly requested prayers.  Operation Underground Railroad is a non-denominational organization, but it is no secret that several members of our team are spiritual in their own ways.

If you saw the documentary made about O.U.R. called “The Abolitionists”, you would have seen Tim praying before operations and Batman talking about his personal relationship with God. Regardless of your own beliefs or how you do it, we always welcome prayers, positive thoughts or energy.  

In the near future we hope to create an opt-in list through our website for anyone who would like to pray for our team. When Operators and Aftercare specialists are facing unique challenges, we will pass on their requests with a short explanation of what specifically to prayer for.

On the morning of April 19th, we asked our Abolitionists on Facebook and Instagram to pray for the children who were hours from potentially being rescued by Osborne and his team.

5,000 miles away, Osborne reported back 2 hours after our prayer request went out that the Op was a success.

  • 9 children rescued.
  • 3 traffickers were arrested by law enforcement.
  • One of the traffickers was a high school P.E. teacher who has been grooming and selling his students during weekend backyard BBQs.

As the operation was coming to an end, Osborne called me back.

“I am just finishing the last bits of detail for my Operational Report.”  – A report that would be filed and used during the upcoming hearing against the traffickers.

“I heard the rescue went down successfully! And everyone is heading home safely?”

Relief reverberated through the phone with Osborne’s reply, “Yes, we were definitely blessed.”  

“That’s why I called you. We sent a prayer request on Facebook and Instagram to pray for your Op. We had a huge response. There were over 2,000 people praying while you guys were rescuing. I want to report back, on one or two miracles you witnessed. Got anything?”

“Yes, a few things. But one in particular: The prosecutor of the small town where we were operating who was directing this child trafficking case was initially hesitant to allow our Aftercare team to access the rescue site and have any contact with the girls. Through a series of small decisions and events, we found out that the Aftercare specialist we brought down with us to assist Jessica knew the prosecutor!”

“Go on…”

“Several years ago the two of them had participated in an exchange program under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State intended to foster cooperation on anti-trafficking efforts in Latin America. Small world, eh?”

“There are no coincidences,” I said, thinking back on all the tender mercies and miracles I’ve heard and seen from the field.

Osborne continued, “Once the prosecutor saw that her old friend and colleague was now with O.U.R., she opened the doors wide and allowed Jessica full access to the survivors in the immediate hours after the rescue.”

Every country is different in what they permit and prohibit. Our standard is simple: there is no rescue without aftercare. Planning within the perimeters that we are given from foreign governments can be challenging. At times it can be heart wrenching. Ideally, we seek to attend to the survivors moments after law enforcement have completed their heroic trafficker take-downs. Immediate post-rescue access allows us to do so much more to aid and protect the survivors, easing their transitions back to their families or into pre-approved aftercare shelters.  

“A true miracle…no way this was just a coincidence. Prayers work.” – Osborne

We thank you for your prayers and support.

(Images and video courtesy of

What can YOU Do?


These victims of sex trafficking were saved because of YOU. 
JOIN THE FIGHT today in your community, so others can celebrate future rescues with us.
Spread the word. SHARE this article.