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Sound of Freedom: the Faces of Human Trafficking

OUR Rescue
Posted by OUR Rescue
Published on June 27, 2023
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6 min read
Screen grabs from the movie Sound of Freedom

“Sound of Freedom” is an award-winning film that depicts both real-life and dramatized rescue missions to help save children who are being sex trafficked across the globe.  Some of these stories are based on the actual work of O.U.R.’s partnership with law enforcement to bring criminal traffickers to justice. Others are based on similar missions in other locales.

The rescue operation on the island in Colombia really happened. 

The movie shows a raid on an island to rescue children from a large trafficking ring. In real life, this was one of three coordinated operations that happened that day in Colombia, conducted by O.U.R. in conjunction with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). In total, 123 survivors were rescued, 55 of which were minors. Known as “Operation Triple Take,” it remains O.U.R.’s largest rescues to date. “Sound of Freedom” depicts the rescue that happened just outside of Cartagena, where approximately 50 victims were rescued. In the movie, all the survivors are children, but in real life not all of them were minors.   

The character “Fuego” in the film is based on a real person who was arrested during Operation Triple Take. An undercover operator for O.U.R. negotiated directly with him. Fuego wore a hat in tribute to Che Guevara, a Marxist revolutionary.  When asked about it, he boasted, “Because I’m the revolutionary in selling girls.”  

During the final showdown with Fuego in Operation Triple Take, just before law enforcement arrived, the O.U.R. operator asked if he could borrow his hat. This was symbolic of the end of Fuego’s revolution. 

Earlier that year, O.U.R. had already conducted operations in Haiti, Cartagena, and the Dominican Republic, with Operation Triple Take as its fourth mission. 

Operation Triple Take ended up winning HSI’s case of the year in 2015, an operation they called “Clear Hope.”

“Giselle” is based on a real person. 

The start of the film shows a woman named “Giselle” recruiting a young girl and her brother for what their father believes is a modeling opportunity. The character of Giselle is loosely based on a woman who was a former beauty pageant queen and professional model in her early twenties, known as “Miss Cartagena”. 

The woman’s reputation gave her credibility with young girls and boys. As a former beauty pageant queen and trained social worker, she was admired and trusted as a leader in her impoverished community.

The woman was arrested and accused of using her standing to lure children away from their families with false promises and recruiting and trafficking children.   

The children portrayed in the movie were actual survivors of trafficking.  

The film depicts many different children who are shown as victims of sex trafficking. The characters represent real people O.U.R. and its law enforcement partners have helped rescue. The story of the little boy, known in the movie as “Teddy,” is one of the most memorable and heart-wrenching.  

In the film, after an O.U.R. operator rescues Teddy, the boy gives him a dog-tag type necklace inscribed with “Timoteo”, a scripture reference to 1 Timothy 6:11, and the words “Man of God”. True to the real story, the little boy’s sister had given her brother this necklace before they were separated to symbolize the hope of rescue.  

Although Teddy’s sister is a person in real life, the story of O.U.R. refusing to give up the search to find “the one,” as depicted in the film, is based on the true story of O.U.R.’s long-time search for a child in Haiti named Gardy.  

The character “Vampiro” is based on a real person. 

The character of “Vampiro,” also known as “Batman,” is based on a real person.  Many of the things said about him when he is introduced in the film are allegedly true, except when it says he spent time in jail. The real Batman has never been to prison. 

In the film, Batman says he changed his life and joined the fight against sex trafficking because he had sex with a prostitute and then realized she was a 14-year-old girl. He says this almost drove him to suicide until God intervened and he redirected his efforts. This is largely true, except for the part where he says he had sex with a 14-year old girl. In real life, the woman he had sex with was an adult trafficking victim, and he realized that her young daughter was being exploited while she was away. That experience drove him to join the fight.  

Batman was involved with Operation Triple Take, but he did not participate in the Cartagena Operation, as depicted in the movie. On that day, he was leading another Operation Triple Take mission in Medellín, Colombia.

Separating Fact from Fictionalization 

The following stories of human trafficking were depicted in the film, but are based on other actual operations conducted by O.U.R. 

The O.U.R. Operator who went into a Colombian jungle by himself to rescue a little girl is based on events that occurred in Haiti. 

In the film, an O.U.R. operator poses as a doctor and goes into a Colombian jungle to find the little boy’s sister shortly after Operation Triple Take. This did not happen. However, in real life, a group of O.U.R. operators, posing as doctors, went into a jungle on the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic a few years after Operation Triple Take in search for Gardy. 

While no one was rescued in that operation, it advanced the search for Gardy and other trafficking victims, and operators were able to provide medical care to many children in need. 

This story is a dramatization of what human trafficking typically looks like. 

The start of the film shows security camera footage of several different kidnappings. This is real footage, and while this type of human trafficking exists, it is less common. When we hear the phrase “sex trafficking,” we often picture dark alleyways in foreign countries where orphaned children from the streets are kidnapped, exploited, and sold. While that is a horrific reality, it is also important to understand that sex trafficking is not just a foreign issue, but an acute and ever increasing domestic concern within the United States. 

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states (NCMEC, 2022). Predators can be soccer coaches and trusted teachers, neighbors across the street, or uncles and aunts. 

The film also depicts children in shipping containers. It is important to note that Hollywood took creative license in portraying the different ways that children can be trafficked. While cases exist where trafficking includes physically transporting children in vehicles, most trafficking happens through a manipulative grooming process. “Sound of Freedom” illustrates how this process works in the child modeling scenes where children (and sometimes their parents) are deceived into believing that they can make money by modeling. The grooming process can also involve promises of food for going to the trafficker’s house or love if they become the trafficker’s boyfriend or girlfriend. It is vital for parents, young adults, teens, and children to know the signs of grooming so they can recognize when someone may have ill intent. 

Don’t let your guard down – stay vigilant and protect your loved ones from these dangerous tactics. 

While O.U.R. was not involved in the production of “Sound of Freedom”, we are proud of the work we do every day with law enforcement to help rescue victims of human trafficking and lock up their predators. 

We did not have a consulting role in the movie or have approval rights. We also did not have any financial ownership or share in the revenue profits of the film. 

If you’d like to support and continue to advance O.U.R. mission, you can help make a difference in the fight to end human trafficking.

Published on June 27, 2023