We recently spent several weeks working with David Zach, lead singer of the Christian rock band, Remedy Drive, who latest album is dedicated to fighting trafficking. Their hit-single, Commodity, continues to top the charts.

Here, David gives an interview about his experiences engaging in undercover work with our field teams. We continue to be grateful for partners like David who are using their talents, voices and careers for freedom’s sake.

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On Feb. 26, 2014, coalition-member Indian Rescue Mission agents raided a private brothel in Southern India, freeing a trafficked girl. During the operation, they used undercover cameras and equipment provided by The Exodus Road.

When The Exodus Road first began its partnership with IRM, the latter team operated with one half-broken camera. Using Exodus Road funds, they purchased at least two cameras for each team member along with a computer and several other pieces of surveillance gear, which helped to gather evidence against the brothel during the February raid. The first images of this video come from that covert equipment and depict that operation. They show a narrow alley, and a tiny, sparsely furnished room. In the video, a woman peeks behind a curtain, presumably calling a young girl. A moment later, the girl enters.

Agents showed these images to police, who then partnered with IRM to free the victim.

She was roughly 15 years old, and she told IRM agents that her parents had died when she was 8.  Her aunt took care of her until she reached puberty—and then, that aunt began to sell her, forcing her into prostitution. The film shows the aunt covering her face with her hands after confrontation with police. The abused niece hugs the social worker present during the raid, and buries her face in the older woman’s shoulder.

“She was in a trauma stage during the time of raid and she thought all of us are police,” an IRM agent said. “But our social worker went and took her to her side and then counseled her and gave her support.”

After the rescue, IRM sent the girl to a protective home.

The IRM agent who spearheaded the raid felt a deep connection to this case because he knew the particular community well. He said he felt a responsibility to make sure the girl attained her freedom. With courage, wisdom and cameras, he did.

“All those got involved were happy about the case and many people from the city appreciated the raid,” he said.

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In 2013, The Exodus Road gifted 125 pieces of covert equipment, including undercover cameras, to field teams. Without these supplies, those teams couldn’t gather the evidence needed to motivate police to act.

You can help The Exodus Road fight sex slavery by clicking here to donate. Your gifts will be used to purchase vital cameras and covert equipment for the investigation and pursuit of human traffickers.

letters to frontline investigators

Bekah emailed us at the office several months ago. She worked with students in a faith community and wanted to connect her church with the cause of bringing freedom to the modern day slave, and she wrote us to see how she could help. We gave her some ideas, she quickly joined the Exodus Army as a powerful advocate.

In addition to raising funds through a Christmas campaign at her church, she also invited the students she works with to write letters of encouragement to undercover investigators. And while it may seem a small thing, pen and paper and a message, it was anything but that. Here is an example:

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It’s because of students like those in Bekah’s community, and as a result of Bekah’s own advocacy and leadership, we’ll be handing over a stack of mail to our undercover teams in May. We will have the privilege of delivering messages from teenagers in the West directly to men who are actively working to rescue other teenagers halfway around the globe, trapped as sex slaves. Men that seldom get thanked and rarely recognized.

Will you join Bekah’s group? Consider taking time yourself or rallying your own community to write letters of thanks to the frontlines. Check out the details and video here:

—> Letters to the Frontlines.

 

And a huge thank you to the community at First Trinity Lutheran Church in NY for leading the way in delivering hope to the those in the trenches. You guys are continued proof that we all have a role to play in this fight for justice. 

 

* A note about these letters. The Exodus Road is a secular nonprofit, and many of the supported investigators are from a variety of religious backgrounds. And though this was a Christian church group that wrote these cards, religious language was greatly limited out of respect for the investigators themselves. We love that Bekah and her group of teens understood and followed this request.

It was a fairly unbelievable story that unfolded from India that morning. Here, Matt Parker tells the community here at The Exodus Road of a raid that revealed 22 girls hidden behind a false wall:

And here is the footage of the actual small room were traffickers held the girls for seven long hours:

As always, thank you for supporting this work of literally breaking through the lies and the prisons which hold such valuable people hostage.

*****

A huge thank you to James Varghese and his team at Indian Rescue Mission who were the team leaders in this case which freed 57 trafficking victims from a dance bar in Mumbai, India. 

This past week has been a big one for The Exodus Road. Our founder, Matt Parker, is right now finishing up his second full week on the ground in SE Asia, and his trip has been productive. The following contains a brief reporting of his time in the field:

1.  Blogger Visit. He was able to spend four days with a well-known blogger, Jamie Wright, and her husband, Steve. Jamie and Steve had the opportunity to see the problem of trafficking firsthand in red-light districts, met an undercover investigator with DELTA team, and were able to attend networking meetings with field partners, as well. Pictured here is Jamie with an investigator in the field.

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 2.  Indian Investigator to SE Asia. The lead investigator from BRAVO team in India flew to SE Asia, as well, to meet other investigators in the coalition from DELTA team and to participate in several nights of training on both investigative technique and equipment use in the field.

3. The Exodus Road Established Legal Foundation. After several months of paper work and meetings, The Exodus Road is now officially recognized as a foundation in SE Asia.

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4. Gifted Internet to Abused Children. While in Thailand, Matt met with the leader of the Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Abuse Center. This nationally-run home with a sustainable farm shelters 8 girls and 33 boys who have been rescued from sexually abusive situations. We are excited about our partnership with this organization and were happy to provide internet for the children to do schoolwork at the shelter. Below is a photo of K. Ja (Far Left), who runs the organization itself, Matt Parker (Center Left), and Jamie and Steve Wright (Center Right, Far Right).

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5. Coalition Meetings. While on the ground, Matt met with ten coalition partners or potential partners, and discussed current cases and needs in the investigative community there in SE Asia.

6. Delivered Equipment. Matt delivered $5,500 worth of covert gear to field teams, active in The Exodus Road coalition. This gear is essential in making undercover investigators more effective.

7. DELTA TEAM Participates in Sting Operation. Last week, DELTA team participated in a sting operation in an attempt to arrest a known pimp of underage victims in Malaysia. Unfortunately, the mission failed for unknown reasons. DELTA team is safe, however, and a future operation will hopefully be planned with police.

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 8. Director’s Wife Encouraged. The lovely folks at Lisa Leonard Designs gifted our field director’s wife with a necklace of her choice, which was personally delivered to her this week in SE Asia, where she and her family live. As is the case with all of Lisa’s jewelry, the art and quality spoke to our field director’s wife when she looked online and chose this one– a small gold cross with a pearl accent. As always, we are encouraged when people in this community offer their unique resources to help empower rescue by supporting those in the field who are knee-deep in it.

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Obviously, it was a productive trip, and as always, we are grateful for those of you who are both following along, and empowering, this journey.

Below, you’ll find a brief video update from Matt himself (subscribers may need to click through to the site to view):

 

Field Update: SE Asia Office from The Exodus Road on Vimeo.

 

 

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Several months ago, we ran a project called Keep the Rocks in the Jar. It was an advocacy project to help 8 victims The Exodus Road had supported the rescue of as they were all about to be deported to their home countries without resources in place.

Consistent with this growing, generous community, you responded. You fully funded the project in one month, and about half was raised by teenagers. The following is our mission report, which was largely (but not completely) successful:

If you gave to this project, you can expect your own Freedom Rock in the mail next week. A huge thank you goes out to all who are investing in freedom efforts with us here at The Exodus Road –not just in raids and rescues, but also in safeguarding future freedom for former sex slaves.

If you’d like to read more about after care and how we work for it, click here.

89 Reasons

Laura Parker —  May 20, 2013

A huge thank you to those in this community who gave financially or supported in any way the recent raid in India with our partners, Indian Rescue Mission. Today, we all have 89 reasons to keep fighting for freedom.

(Subscribers may need to click through to the site to view the video.)

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Together, we are empowering rescue.

Why Rocks? Check out this video explaining why we use Freedom Rocks in our office to document past rescues. We have 114 to date, but we used the 89 from this recent raid in India for the above film.

 

Mumbai: Heads in the police have rolled following a bar raid in Panvel that unveiled a prostitution ring.

Superintendent of police (Thane rural) Sangramsingh Nishandar following a tip-off by an NGO, on Thursday raided a bar and lodge in Panvel and exposed a flesh trade racket. The police arrested 45 people including one of the bar owners who fled during the raid.    - The Times of India

In February, we put a shaky plea out to you, as our community here at The Exodus Road. We didn’t have a well-laid marketing plan, we didn’t have a product to sell. We simply knew there were brothels which held victims that needed to be busted.

And we didn’t have the funds in our account to do it.

So we put it out to you. We called it the 7/40 Project because initial intelligence from India estimated that there were seven brothels with an estimated 40 victims. (Circumstances eventually led the team to focus on the biggest dance bar first, instead of all seven at once). “No gimmicks, just rescue,” we wrote. And, to our surprise, in four days, you fully funded this project donating $3,435–an amount beyond our initial ask.

We wired the money, and the team we help fuel in India, Indian Rescue Mission, began the process of investigating and mobilizing the authorities. They tenaciously pushed through obstacle after obstacle, through red-tape, evidence-gathering, and even political unrest which delayed the raid itself.

But, finally, Thursday evening, rescue came. In bigger ways than any of us imagined. We were texting with the India team all morning, and finally when the dust from the sting operation settled, we saw this picture:

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And we discovered not 40 victims in seven brothels, but 89 trafficked victims in one.

32 of the girls were under the age of 18. 

The girls were identified by police and the investigative team and immediately taken to a safe house. We’ll be trying our best to follow up with the team on the ground as to their placement, and we’ll keep you posted.

And while we are thrilled for the literal freedom of the 89 girls who testified they were “tricked” into working at the dance bar and were brought in from nearby states in India, we are also excited that this case will probably lead to 5 convictions of the leaders of prostitution racket itself, as well as will highlight the complicit police in the area. Several top police staff have been removed from their positions. The India news reported:

The Thane police had on Thursday night raided the Kapal bar on the old Mumbai-Goa highway and rescued 89 women including 32 minor girls from the bar and an adjoining hotel. R 1.15 crore in cash and R 45 lakh worth of gold ornaments were also seized in the raid. – Mid-Day News

Following the raid at a dance bar in Panvel near Mumbai late on Thursday, in which 32 minor girls were rescued from a prostitution racket, the Home department has initiated an inquiry against police officers who allegedly did not take any action even though the bar was located just three kilometres from the police station.  - The Hindu 

Though you probably won’t be able to understand the language spoken, the following is a video news report of the raid (click on the photo):

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Following the raid, the message we received from team leader, James, was that many of the dance bars/brothels were then shut down completely or greatly slowed their business because brothel owners were afraid the police crackdown might come to their doors, as well. And while we know that this lull won’t last, the reaction speaks loudly to the power of raids and arrests with local authorities.

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Friends, thank you. Thank you for stepping up and empowering rescue in this case. Though our office in the States is small– composed only of a few staff, a handful of volunteers, and you– together we are sending out search and rescue teams into the darkest of places. There are brave men in the field who are bleeding out for the sake of rescue, and we are sending a message that they are not alone.

Thursday was a huge Win for Freedom, friends.

Thanks for celebrating it with us.

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If you’d like to stay updated on future cases like this one, please subscribe to our newsletter or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter (@theexodusroad). We’ll be giving you front-row seats to future missions and raids, and we’d love to have you along. We just got word of another raid we are hoping to fuel within the month, and we’d love for you not to miss it.

What is The Exodus Road? Glad you asked. We are a coalition of investigators collaborating for the sake of rescue. Our stateside office provides funding for cases, some contract salaries to nationals, and quality surveillance gear for teams actively doing investigations into sexual slavery. We currently have teams in India and SE Asia. We have 26 investigators in our coalition and have supported the rescue, always with local authorities, of 114 victims of sexual slavery since July 2012. Our heartbeat is collaboration and empowerment. You can read more by checking out our faq page.

 

Rescue is Coming

Laura Parker —  April 25, 2013

Ever wondered what the inside of a locked brothel looks like?

Ever questioned what one of our undercover investigators sees while on mission looking for victims and children?

Take two minutes and get an inside look through the following video, which follows our partners at Indian Rescue Mission into a locked brothel in a red-light district. The footage is shot by a covert camera which is typical of the gear we provide our partners with and which our founder, Matt Parker, was wearing.

As always, we want to give you, our community here, a front-row seat to both the realities of modern day slavery and the brave people who are ushering rescue in.

Join us by subscribing to our newsletter, connecting with us on facebook or twitter, or by sharing this film or post with your friends.

Video Update from SE Asia

Laura Parker —  April 18, 2013

As many of you know, our founder Matt Parker has been on the ground with investigative teams for the past two weeks in both India and SE Asia. Here, he briefly shares some of the exciting developments that he’s been able to see firsthand. As always, we’re committed to give you a front-row seat to the walking out of The Exodus Road  . . .