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Human Trafficking - Facing the Darkness

By Jesse Maxfield
Introduction to Criminal Justice
October 23, 2016

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If someone asked you the question, What is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in
the world today? What would you think? Most probably would think that drug trafficking or
illegal Arms trafficking, is dominating the worlds criminal enterprise today. The answer may
surprise you. Human trafficking is the world's fastest growing criminal enterprise and is an
estimated $32 billion-a-year global industry (Human Trafficking 2016). It is a form of modern
day slavery that profits from the exploitation of our most vulnerable populations. Children make
up a large number of the vulnerable populations being trafficked around the world today. It takes
a special kind of person to look into such dark places and take a stand for what is right. Tim
Ballard is this person. With experience he has created a non profit organization that has taken this
horrific problem head on. They exist to rescue children from sex trafficking.

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On a February afternoon in the year of 2014, in the poverty-stricken country of Haiti
Timothy Ballard is thrown to the ground and handcuffed by local law enforcement. Looking up
from the ground, he sees the woman who just sold him two young childrena brother and sister
ages 2 and 3for $15,000 a piece, is hauled away by police. The woman didnt know that
Ballard is a former government agency worker who was working with the Haitian government in
an undercover operation that would liberate 28 children from her orphanage. Ballard would go
on to rescue more than 200 children from human traffickers in 2014 alone (Armstrong 2016).
Ballard began his career at the Central Intelligence Agency where he worked cases
dealing with terrorism and Latin America. He has spent over ten years working as a Special
Agent for the Department of Homeland Security where he was assigned to the Internet Crimes
Against Children Task Force and deployed as an undercover operative for the U.S. Child Sex
Tourism Jump Team (Operation Underground Railroad, The Team 2016).
Getting involved in human trafficking of children is something he never thought he
would get involved in. When he was a CIA government agent, Ballard had been trained to fight
terrorism, so he was surprised when his boss specifically requested that he help form a child
crimes unit. Ballard recalls, Its the one thing I wouldnt do. Its the worst possible thing anyone
can see. Who knows how that would affect you? But his boss insisted that Ballards LDS faith
would help strengthen him against the horrific crimes he would be facing. With his wife, they
pondered the decision and sought divine help. They felt strongly that this is something that
Ballard needed to do, so he said, Yes! The answer he had for his change of heart is
astonishing. The very reason I said no at first, is the very reason we came to the decision to say
yesbecause we have children. He began his new job as an undercover operative who assumed

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the role of pedophile or child trafficker. In some instances, he would go undercover and arrange
to "buy" a child as if he was a customer. After the purchase, authorities would move in and, arrest
those responsible and rescue the children (Operation Underground Railroad, The Process 2016).
It wasn't long after the first case, which led to the rescue of five year old boy, that he began to
doubt if he could handle the emotional, psychological, and spiritual toll. I told my wife, I cant
do this. These children are being kidnapped and raped. There is nothing worse on earth. There is
nothing worse in hell. But he felt a powerful confirmation that this was what he was supposed
to do. He said, I made a commitment to God and to that little boy that I would do everything I
could, even if it killed me (Armstrong 2016).
He worked another 12 years as a government agent, but Ballard's had growing
frustrations with the government. As a government agent, you can only work cases if a US
citizen was involved. He would infiltrated child trafficking rings only to be forced to leave
innocent victims behind because they were not United States citizens. This became unbearable
and he could no longer deal with the restrictionist. He decided to take matters into his own hands
by coming to Salt Lake City in 2012 and started a non-profit organization called Operation
Underground Railroad in December of 2013 (Operation Underground Railroad, FAQ 2016).
Before leaving the government, he reached out to his contacts in other countries and asked them
if they would still allow him to operate privately and they all agreed. He assembled a team of
individuals with unique skill sets. Not knowing where the money would come from, networking
and word of mouth quickly led to enough donations to begin operations in January of 2014
(Armstrong 2016).

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Human sex trafficking is the most common form of modern-day slavery. Estimates place
the number of its domestic and international victims in the millions, mostly females and children
(Rodriguez and Hill 2016). Every year, 600,000 to 800,000 men, women and children are sold
across international borders and it is estimated that 50% of these victims are children. Human
trafficking is classified as the second most lucrative industry falling in between illegal drug trade
and illegal arms trade (Child Trafficking Statistics 2016). Its is big business and is the fastestgrowing business of organized crime. The majority of sex trafficking is international.
Unfortunately, however, sex trafficking also occurs domestically. The United States not only
faces an influx of international victims, but also has its own homegrown problem of interstate
sex trafficking of minors. An estimated 293,000 American youths currently are at risk of
becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The majority of these victims are runaway
or thrown-away youths who live on the streets and become victims of prostitution. They often
come from homes where they have been abused or from families who have abandoned them
(Rodriguez and Hill 2016).
Today, the business of human sex trafficking is much more organized and violent. The
victims are sold to traffickers, locked up for weeks or months, drugged, terrorized, and raped
extensively. The constant abuse make it easier for the traffickers to control their victims (FBI
2011). As globalization increases, the border controls become more relaxed, technological
innovation that aids in trafficking increases and increased migration and international trade
creates easy targets and methods of transportation. Globalization allows for better

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communication internationally and locally between traffickers and the buyers of child victims. It
is estimated that 76% of the purchases for sex with girls under the age of 18, originates on the
internet (Child Trafficking Statistics 2016).
Operation Underground Railroad, has created a process to try and combat the horrific
crimes being committed. Step One: Assess the feasibility of rescue. This must take into account
the willingness of local authorities to work with OUR since they not only want to save the
children but arrest the perpetrators, in a legal manner. Step two: Research the location. The
children and the background of those who are running the sex ring. They also search for vetted
care facilities that will take the children once they are rescued and not only give them food and
shelter but rehabilitate them as well. Some children are able to be returned to their families. Step
three: Design a strategy for rescuing the children. This is the logistical part of the process. As
they use former CIA, Navy Seals, Special Agents, etc., they have a very unique skill set to make
things happen safely, efficiently and legally. They provide local law enforcement training to
support and sustain anti-trafficking operations. Step four: Take action. This is the most dangerous
part of the operation. In some instances, they go undercover and arrange to "buy" a child as if
they were a customer. After the purchase, they move in with the police, arrest those responsible
and rescue the children. In other situations, they may act as a "client" looking for favors, and
things of that nature. Step five: Recover the children. These children's lives will never be the
same. Their innocence has been stolen and they need help to readjust to a better world. Therapy
is provided as well as food and shelter at a facility that has been reviewed by OUR. Step 6:
Arrest, try, and convict the perpetrators. They follow this process every step of the way to make
sure they don't traffic children again. In many cases the perpetrators were sex slaves and victims

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of trafficking themselves and know no better way to survive. They hope to break this cycle. Once
a group of traffickers is arrested, others begin to know that law enforcement is aware and the
trafficking and the problem begins to subside (Operation Underground Railroad, The Process
Tim Ballard is no longer an undercover operator. He is the face of Operation
Underground Railroad. We go about our lives thinking we have eradicated slavery, but its
bigger than ever, he says. There are more slaves today than all the slaves in 300 years of the
transatlantic slave trade (Armstrong 2016). People don't know about this problem today, and
how it is growing so fast. It is a dark thing and we don't like to talk about it because it makes us
uncomfortable. I have attended events where Ballard has spoken. He uses the comparison
between our day and the days of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. We look back and think,
If I lived in that time period, I would stand up and say no to slavery. If this is true then we will
take a stand today and talk about the issues that are happening all around the world as well as in
the United States today.
We are seeing efforts on a national level addressing this problem. The FBI and law
enforcement across the country rescued 82 minors over the weekend of the 13th though the 15th
of October. This was the three day effort of Operation Cross Country, now in its 10th year. It
involved 55 FBI field officer and 74 child exploitation task forces. For the first time this
operation extended over seas. In all, 239 people, including numerous pimps, were arrested in
the operation. The FBI also hopes that through Operation Cross Country will better inform the
public of the problem of sex trafficking. Operation Cross Country is part of the Innocence Lost

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Initiative, which started in 2003 has been a part of the recovery of about 6,000 children. This is
the fourth time the Salt Lake City field office has participated (Romero, M. 2016).
Human trafficking is the world's fastest growing criminal enterprise. Estimates place the
number of victims worldwide in the millions. It is estimated that 50% of these victims are
children. Stopping this horrific criminal activity will take the efforts of many dedicated
individuals, as well as communities as a whole. The FBI has a number of field offices devoted to
combating sex trafficking. The efforts of Tim Ballard has put a face on the fight against sex
trafficking. He is a beacon for good in a dark world. He is taking the darkest issue that the
world faces today and has looked it straight in the eye. He has devoted his life to saving these
children. As the OUR team commits, To the children: Hold on. We are on our way. To the
captors and perpetrators: Be afraid. We are coming for you (Operation Underground Railroad

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Armstrong, J. (n.d.). Rescuing Children from Sex Slavery: One Mormon's Inspired ... Retrieved
October 23, 2016, from
"Child Trafficking Statistics." Child Trafficking Statistics. Ark of Hope for Children, 19 Mar.
2016. Web. as quoted in Combating Human Trafficking in Regards to Children. (2016,
October). Model United Nations, 27th, 7-9. Retrieved October 23, 2016, from http://
Human Trafficking | State of California - Department of ... (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2016,
Operation Underground Railroad. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2016, from
Rodriguez, A. W., & Hill, R. (2011, March). FBI Human Sex Trafficking. Retrieved October
23, 2016, from
Romero, M. (2016, October 18). Teen rescued in Utah during FBI child sex trafficking sweep.
Retrieved October 23, 2016, from