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Exodus Road rescuing girls worldwide as traffickers change tactics amid COVID-19 lockdowns

Exodus Road rescuing girls worldwide as traffickers change tactics amid COVID-19 lockdowns

David Zach and Matt Parker holding technology The Exodus Road uses in cyber forensics work. | The Exodus Road

The Exodus Road, a nonprofit organization that rescues human trafficking victims, said all donations made on Giving Tuesday will be matched. 

Over the past seven years, Remedy Drive frontman David Zach has spent much of his time going undercover in brothels and red-light districts searching for evidence of sex trafficking. He's also teamed up with Matt Parker, founder of the anti-human trafficking organization The Exodus Road, and together they use covert gear to capture evidence of human trafficking.

Because of the COVID-19 lockdowns, “a lot of traffickers have moved into selling online,” Zach told The Christian Post. “Our teams have used this time to use some of our online tools to identify trafficking networks and lure them out."

Along with rescuing victims of the slave trade, Laura Parker, co-founder of The Exodus Road, said the organization also took part in humanitarian efforts when the pandemic hit India. 

"We provided food for slum communities in India and then gave protective kits to police partners,” Parker told CP. “The rest of the teams in Southeast Asia, the U.S., and Latin America transitioned to working mostly online during COVID but we were able to do some online work, including investigations into busting up a webcam studio (two minors were forced to do live sex on film)."

The initial distribution of food and protective supplies in India was met with great enthusiasm by the community. The efforts caught the attention of local authorities and they helped assist with the rescue. The second round of distribution of food has been delayed as there have been closings of several districts due to exponentially increased COVID-19 cases.

The work of The Exodus Road has led to over 1,500 rescues and more than 700 arrests to date. The Exodus Road has 69 operatives working in four countries and will be expanding to two additional countries in the near future.

The Exodus Road has trained operatives to facilitate rescue missions for survivors of human trafficking and their experts utilize "advanced technology to locate survivors and gather evidence for successful raids and arrests, impacting the larger systems of slavery," the website says.

The organization recently celebrated two additional rescues.

“Today, two women are free! And another trafficker has been stopped. TER operatives in Thailand spotted suspicious tweets from a female trafficker. She was selling girls and women online for about $45 USD each. Our undercover investigations confirmed trafficking — and two women were rescued in the mission! Their trafficker was arrested, is facing justice, and is no longer selling the vulnerable online.”

Their recent operations also led to four traffickers being arrested in Latin America.

“A 15-year-old girl was brutally tortured for sharing information about dealings within the brothel with one of its clients. What’s worse, the brothel owner recorded the abuse of this teen and shared it with the other girls in captivity as a threat if they ever dared to speak out,” the report read.

“Search + Rescue teams went undercover, communicated with the victim who was tortured, collected evidence, and supported police in this mission to take down this human trafficking network,” the organization added. 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, however, the case was delayed for several months, and during that time, traffickers moved the girls to other parts of the country. The organization’s police partners did not give up and “four traffickers were arrested — two men who were in charge of recruiting teen girls and torturing them, a male brothel owner, and a female trafficker who collaborated with these men in selling the girls.”

For Giving Tuesday, The Exodus Road launched the $Never campaign. The $Never initiative is a declaration that children should never be sold and for a limited time, donations to TER will be matched.

In 2018, President Donald Trump signed a bill into law that expands the fight against human sex trafficking. Known as the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, or H.R. 1865, Trump signed the bill with survivors of sex trafficking in attendance.

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