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Undercover Run

By Julia Randall

Eighty  people and three dogs raced for rescue in The Exodus Road’s inaugural “Undercover Run” on Saturday, September 5 to support the freedom of trafficked women and children in the US and Asia.

The 5k run was an especially colorful one, as participants in undercover “disguises” such as glasses, masks, wigs, capes and tutus showed their heroic identities by speeding along the course at Cottonwood Creek Park in Colorado Springs.  “I’m running stealth,” joked one racer, who ran holding a bush branch in front of her as “camouflage.”

The morning started with a kid’s Fun Run, where children dressed in superhero gear dashed to win prizes.  It ended with an awards ceremony, emceed by local television personality James Brown, in which winners were given goodie bags with loot from local sponsors.

While the 5k run was full of fun, that wasn’t the only reason people participated—many took part specifically to support TER and its mission.  “We wouldn’t normally do this (run a 5k),” said Breanna Speir of herself and her friends, who have long been acquainted with TER.  As one of her group crossed the finish line to wild cheers, she added, “But we would do this for The Exodus Road.”

“As hard as this (the run) was for us, it’s nothing compared to what The Exodus Road is striving to do,” said Speir.

Jason Morgan won the men’s race in 19:56 and Rachel Quinn took home first place in the women’s category with a time of 22:33.

Martin and Adeline Flower won prizes for best disguises with elaborate costumes that included puffy orange and pink wigs and bright, vintage costumes.

  • Kate Maddox, the Financial Manager for The Exodus Road

    Together we are making an impact by finding and freeing modern day slaves.

    Kate Maddox, the Financial Manager for The Exodus Road

We want to give a heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in this event, including the runners, organizers, staff and volunteers.

Laura Morgan, the lead volunteer, had this to say when asked about her motivation for helping The Exodus Road:

Laura Morgan in her undercover disguise

Laura Morgan in her undercover disguise

“I volunteer to end the sale of people, to stop the emotional and physical torture of slavery.  Human life is too valuable to be abused and sold as a commodity.  I may not ever see the victims or hear about trafficking during a regular day but they are on my heart and I have to do something to work toward their freedom.  It is not acceptable to pretend this is not happening just because we can’t see it.  To borrow words from Ann Voskamp, “Not on our watch will we let women be made invisible so they can be made usable inventory.”

We are so grateful for Laura and her team of passionate volunteers who helped to make this event a success.

Please remember to post your photos and videos tagged with #UndercoverRun.

We are enormously grateful to our sponsors, who included:

Thanks also to the Concept Restaurant Group and Tru Health Chiropractic for their donations.

Photos by: Taylor Powers

If you would like to Volunteer with The Exodus Road please visit our Volunteer Center page:

BRAVO team Snapshot

We are happy to share with you an update about some recent rescues in India. Join us in congratulating the members of BRAVO team for their hard work. 

The BRAVO team, working to help find and free slaves in India, is led by a director with over 15 years of experience in this field. His keen eye and steady tenacity have resulted in the liberation of many young ladies and boys from trafficking situations. He and his team travel over 24 hours to get to some of the areas where they conduct investigations. These 5 investigators, all nationals, and 2 social workers are present at all the raids. They find the victims, especially minors, then coordinate a raid with police. They then support victims as they give testimony and transition to government care.

BRAVO team in India has experienced a string of successful raids over the last few months. Here are a few highlights of their valiant work.

Please note that, as always, these rescues are performed in partnership with local law enforcement agents. We are proud of the collaborative nature of our BRAVO team members as they seek to work in tandem with the officials of their areas. The Exodus Road will not overstep the jurisdiction of the land, and we are honored to work with local police.

Celebrate with us the freedom of these 11 survivors!


BRAVO team RESCUE report

Pictured below: Riya*. Kiara*. Sai*. Pari*.  Four young girls rescued from sex slavery. One, just 7 years old.

*Names changed to protect their identities.

BRAVO team 8.18.15 06 join us .jpg

We would like to thank the supporters of BRAVO team for their commitment to empower rescue. The consistent donations used to fuel operations like these make all the difference. Thank you! 

Visit the Search & Rescue page to know more how YOU can join this team. Click here: SEARCH & RESCUE

Online Trafficking Syndicate Brought Down

By Julia Randall

World Cup 328365 by Gabriela PintoWhen “Nam” responded to a Facebook post advertising employment, she thought that she would be leaving Thailand to work at a Kuala Lumpur restaurant and club.  Upon her arrival in the foreign city, Nam (name changed to protect her identity) discovered she had been lied to. The “restaurant/club” was a disguised brothel. She was now trapped in the brothel’s apartment, where she was held against her will and forced into sex work.  Nam was not alone in her plight—several other women were caught with her after being similarly tricked.  But Nam showed great courage and found a way to get the help she needed to escape and help secure the freedom of other women who had been deceived—six women were freed in the initial rescue.

A trafficking network that used Facebook and other social media to lure, trick and trap victims into sex slavery was broken up by Thailand’s Department of Special Investigations (DSI) in July 2015. DSI arrested three men for human trafficking.  The Exodus Road collaborated with our partners at Freeland with The Liberty Alliance to assist the DSI by providing information and analysis during the investigative phase and provided aftercare to the several of the freed survivors.

The leader, a Malaysian known as “Boss Steven,” used employment advertisements for club and restaurant jobs to Thai and Vietnamese women, enticing them to travel to Kuala Lumpur with promises of perks and bonuses.  Once the women arrived, they were held captive and forced into sex work.

Khao San Road at night by shankar s.Despite the threat of recrimination, Nam resourcefully found a way to ask for help via an online chat channel.  Nam’s message was eventually received by the trafficking hotline at Freeland, who analyzed the information for authenticity before giving it to Thai authorities, who then conducted a remarkable undercover investigation.

Nam eventually found a chance to sneak out of the brothel compound and find her way to the Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Concern for Nam’s safety led the DSI to swiftly repatriate her to Thailand, where Freeland and TER sponsored her care while the DSI continued to gather evidence against “Boss Steven” and two of his cohorts.

Nam continued to demonstrate great strength and courage when she faced down fear of retaliation from her traffickers and an arduous process of testimony by continuing to provide information to the DSI.  Nam’s information was not only key in securing the arrest of “Boss Steven” and his partners, but also in freeing other victims.  The Exodus Road is honored to know Nam and to have been able to provide aftercare for her and several other survivors, along with follow-up support and some services.

Because of your generosity and with a shared grant from One Day’s Wages for aftercare services, The Exodus Road was able to sponsor a debt repayment for one of the survivors and pay for medical services for another. We are also in the process of funding the educational fees for several survivors’ children and a motorbike that a survivor will use to launch her business.

We continue to see that fighting trafficking within the legal system is a long, arduous process and that providing services for survivors, especially those who are of age, is equally as difficult. Thankfully, though, we were able to serve as a light along the pathway to freedom for Nam and her friends.

Partner Organizations:

Read more about this story here:

You can know more about aftercare efforts by visiting the FAQ page:  FAQ page

The Child Witness Room

Caring for young survivors of trafficking and exploitation is critical. It’s a vital part of not only building successful cases against their traffickers and abusers, but also shows value and care for them as individuals. We’re pleased to announce we were able to practically support local police efforts to do just that.

Police departments of various regions in Thailand came together to request grant assistance from The Exodus Road to make improvements on the Child Witness Room. Thanks to a donation from One Day’s Wages and the support for after care services given by our own community, we were able to help.

We granted 100,000 Thai baht (about $2,857  USD) this month to the Hot Sub-District Police Station via the Chiang Mai Police Station. The funds will primarily be used to furnish the room with equipment and to replace previous recording devices with high quality ones.

The police have great hopes for the use of this room. They desire:

  • To protect the rights of children and youth according to the law.
  • To have a safe witness room for the children who are victims in all eight police stations in the surrounding areas.
  • To reduce the fear, shame, and stress of the children when they are answering questions.

The room will be a safe, effective place for minors to tell their stories to social workers and the authorities.

The relationships between government officials and aid organizations are strengthened when cooperative efforts are focused on caring for victims. And this project is a sustainable picture of that very type of collaboration.

  • Amm Chutima, Exodus Road Country Director pictured at the far right

    The court process can add to the stress of a child victim. However, ensuring they are adequately prepared as a witness can reduce their anxiety and enable them to better participate in court proceedings. Giving this grant to help improve the room will deeply benefit them.

    Amm Chutima, Exodus Road Country Director pictured at the far right
Grant check given for interrogation room 2

The officials pictured left to right and their positions are as follows:

  1. Lt. Col. Jareewan Puttanurak, Specialist Inquiry Officer Children Women Family Protection and Anti-Human Trafficking Center, Chiang Mai Provincial Police
  2. Col. Teerapol Intaralip, Deputy Commander Chiang Mai Provincial Police in charge of Department of Children Women Family Protection and Anti-Human Trafficking Center
  3. Police Major General Montree Sumboonnanon, Commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police

Also pictured: Joe Hayes, The Exodus Road Regional Director, and Amm Chutima, The Exodus Road Country Director.

The Exodus Road team celebrates the local police for their commitment to a safe, child-friendly place where survivors can freely share their stories, and we’re grateful to have played a small role in helping to outfit it.

Read more stories about survivors here:

You can know more about aftercare efforts by visiting the FAQ page:  FAQ page

Meet the New Regional Director, SE Asia

Joe HayesWe are happy to introduce you today to the new SE Asian Regional Director, working from the Regional Office in Thailand. Joe Hayes joins The Exodus Road team in a leadership capacity and comes to us with years of cross-cultural management experience. The fact that Joe grew up in Southeast Asia and speaks the language fluently gives him a unique cultural advantage as he works with team members and partners throughout the region.

A primary value we maintain as an organization is the equipping of nationals to effectively fight trafficking in their own communities, and employing a Regional Director like Joe who can bridge the cultural gap is a another step towards that goal. One of Joe’s primary roles is to build capacity and effectiveness for a growing team of national staff.

As you will undoubtedly ascertain from the following interview, Joe is very much interested in the well-being of humanity. We are so honored to welcome him to leadership in the field.

Take a moment to read through his honest answers to the following questions:


What brought you to The Exodus Road?

I have a heart and a burden for the people of Thailand. I am honored to be working closely alongside Matt Parker because of his drive and passion for the people. I feel as though I am among my people. I am one of them. I grew up here in Thailand around poor people and have spent a lot of time with the Khmer refugees. I have a great burden for the people, to see them freed.

So you grew up in Thailand. How do you think this influences your job?

I know I just said that I feel like the Thai people are my people. But at the same time I am a Caucasian man who was raised with North American influences. Even though I grew up thinking I was a Thai person, I am still very much my parents’ son. I can see that my background has prepared me for my management job now. If I can figure out how to motivate the Asian people to work hard to fight trafficking in their own countries and have success as professionals then I have done well.

Talk about what is challenging.

I am an ordinary person. I’m nobody. If I can help free modern day slaves through my management skills I am glad to help. There is pressure because the problem is so huge. What goes on is wicked and wrong.

Talk about what is driving you forward. What is your motivation? 

It’s easy to get involved to help these kids. My drive stems from the needs of the people. I would rather be in the background helping humans. I am learning and building a team of Asians who are passionate and filled with positivity and action to help fight human trafficking. I am honored to be on the team. . . . It’s not about the numbers or the program for me. It’s about the humans. I think the 1 is as important as the 50,000.


Welcome to The Exodus Road team, Joe!

The Girl He Will Never Forget – DELTA Team Video

  • - Scott, Undercover Operative with DELTA team

    I was so overwhelmed. I thought, yeah I’ve read about it, but here it is, right in front of me. Don’t think a day has gone by where I have not wept over what I saw.

    - Scott, Undercover Operative with DELTA team

DELTA Team is composed primarily of qualified expats who are working in counter-trafficking in SE Asia. DELTA includes a partnering investigative organization whom we fund as well as a committed group of deployed volunteers who serve in two week (or more) stints sweeping areas of interest gathering large amounts of data and evidence. These volunteers must pass a rigorous interview and training process before working with us as operatives. Scott* was one of these deployed operatives.

We’ll be hosting another team of eight deployed operatives in September 2015. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they actively enter dark places on behalf of the oppressed. 

Who are the TraffickWatch Agents in Colorado Springs?

Charlie Team Banner horiz

“One thing I want everyone to know about human trafficking is that it appears in so many various ways and is often right in front of us,” said Rebecca*, a volunteer with TraffickWatch in Colorado Springs. She adds, “We, as a society, are very good at not seeing, not noticing, and not acting. It is prevalent everywhere. Although this makes the problem daunting and seemingly impossible to overcome, it also makes for countless ways for every person to get involved in the fight.

Rebecca is one of 43 local volunteers. She exuded positivity throughout the interview. We wanted to know her motivation for volunteering in such a unique program. “When I finally realized the truth about slavery today and my heart began to chase after justice in this area, I was extremely pleased to be given the opportunity to jump in locally with TraffickWatch. It provided an exciting way to play a hands-on part in providing justice and rescue for the victims enslaved in my own city.”

TraffickWatch is a program designed to fight human trafficking and sex slavery in the United States of America. This year the pilot was launched in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The volunteers are local individuals who passed the application and vetting process and participated in the training sessions. They now rotate shifts and spend a few nights a month doing targeted surveillance throughout the city. They look for suspicious activity which indicates trafficking. These tips are run through specialized analyzing data processors and made available to local authorities.

TraffickWatch Quote

The long night shifts, with a partner and coffee, can seem uneventful. Thalia* told us, “A normal night on the streets is usually pretty quiet as you, and who you are watching, are trying not to attract attention.” 

  • - Thalia, Volunteer TraffickWatch Agent

    We were surprised to see where this type of thing was taking place and where we were being sent to watch. You think it only happens in sketchy neighborhoods, but it is happening all around town.

    - Thalia, Volunteer TraffickWatch Agent

The volunteers at the interview agreed on a number of points. They all said that it feels as though society in general has very little awareness or concern regarding the realities of human trafficking in the United States. They each hope to increase awareness about this issue.

We asked Sebastian* what he has learned about human trafficking that he did not know before he started helping in the program. “The age of the victims and the ease of availability,” he said.

Through TraffickWatch, The Exodus Road hopes to help find actionable tips to provide to local police partners, which could lead to freedom for the exploited or enslaved. Thalia summarized the feelings of the group when she said, “One thing I hope happens because of the TraffickWatch program is that we can help that one person who no one else is concerned about.”

Some statistics about the initial pilot program which took place in Colorado Springs, Colorado, April – June 2015:

  1. It engaged 43 volunteer agents, trained and equipped to actively look for trafficking in their communities.
  2. It facilitated 22 nights of surveillance.
  3. It supplied local authorities with 72 tips, via a customized database management system.

*Names changed to protect identities

For more information you can visit the TraffickWatch page. Our goal is to roll out similar chapters in 12 cities throughout 2016. 


Dear Captive: A Letter from a Rescuer

Dear Captive

Undercover operatives with The Exodus Road have very difficult jobs. They enter bars and brothels and meet young girls whose bodies are for sale. They feign interest in purchasing the girls’ time so they can begin negotiating with traffickers or “mamasans” (brothel madams). As they talk about price, operatives try to discover as much information about the girls as they can. How old are they? Are they prostitutes by choice? How long have they worked as prostitutes?

Then, our operatives must make excuses and leave without closing the deal.

They report back to The Exodus Road without tipping off the traffickers. It’s not easy for the operatives to walk out knowing the girls will continue working after they’ve gone.

The following is a composite* letter written by covert operatives. It’s addressed to a fictitious girl, representative of the girls in the bars and brothels. It serves as an exercise to help operatives process their experiences after undercover assignments.

Dear Nok*,

I only saw you briefly one night, but it broke my heart and brought tears to my eyes. I had to shut down those feelings and pretend to be something I’m not so you might have freedom one day.

I want to apologize because it must have seemed like I rejected you. I saw you dancing alone in the corner of the club—a young and innocent girl who tried to appear older. I escorted you to a table and bought you a drink. Within moments, the mamasan sat with us. I know you knew little English, and it may have looked like I was trying to buy you for the night. I wasn’t. I was trying to obtain your freedom.

I put my arm around you, but I didn’t want to touch you like others have. I wanted to draw you to my side, if just for a moment, to give you the security of a father, of a man who cares what happens to you. There are people looking and fighting for your future, and I am one of those.

Again, I left so quickly, not because I found you worthless, but because your mamasan was getting anxious for me to buy time with you. However, I want you to know you are beautiful in so many ways. I want you to know your true worth. You are precious. You are a treasure. You are strong. You are important. You are worth saving.

covert operative volunteer weepLearn to hold on to this truth and don’t let it go. I’ve only seen a bit of what you endure, and I want to take you out of this environment so you can experience a true family.

If I could have, I would have bought you that night—not just for an hour but also for the rest of your life. I wanted to take you out of the bar so you could live in freedom. You will be sealed into my memory forever. I will speak of you often and pray for you more often, hoping, waiting and praying for the day I hear you’ve been set free.

People know you’re out there. Good-hearted people are working to free you. I’m so sorry this is happening to you. It’s not right.

I hate that I’m leaving you here, but I won’t forget you. As I say goodbye, tears stream down my face because I feel like I’m abandoning you. But, my faith is strong, and I trust the people staying behind to find and free you and girls like you.


A Covert Operative with The Exodus Road


* Name changed for identity protection

This composite letter was assembled from various authors. It was edited for length, grammar, and clarity. This exercise is primarily to help the operatives process their experiences. We share it in this format to allow readers to understand the intricacies of undercover work. 

An Interview with Undercover Operatives

Interview with Undercover Operatives

The Exodus Road: Thank you, Carl* and Robert*, for talking with us today about your recent experience as undercover operatives for The Exodus Road. We want to ask a few questions so others can get an idea of what it’s like to be an operative in Asia. So, let’s get started!

First, can you tell us about the vetting process and your preparation time? 

Carl: Based upon my initial vetting, I was not sure what to expect. I had visions of very unknown territories, and I felt almost nervous. However, I was very pleased and not stressed at all. Of course, I have been to Asia three times now and was familiar with some of the places and areas.

I would rate the trip 10, and I’m looking forward to another deployment!

TER: Thanks! What feedback can you give us about your training in Asia?

Carl: I felt very equipped and comfortable. I loved practicing with the equipment and getting used to the environment.

Robert: One thing I liked about our first assignment was that we observed a target. With this assignment, it allowed us to ease into the work.  … I believe this is important for first-time agents so they do not feel too overwhelmed.

TER: Did you feel safe during the investigations?

Carl: I always felt safe and felt everything was planned out well and executed well. I’m sure there was always more potential danger than most may have realized, but did feel like there was always an extra set of eyes and hands with us from a supernatural standpoint!

TER: How did you feel about your team of undercover operatives? Did you get along and work well together?

Robert: Great connection with the entire team. The morning debriefs were a great addition to the day. This allowed us to share and bond even more. Each agent was praised in front of the team, and I felt what we were doing is and will continue to make a difference.

TER: What were the biggest challenges you faced as an undercover operative?

Carl: It’s hard to explain. I have been on many mission trips, and I somewhat knew what to expect. But, when I actually walked in the houses selling 12-t0-16-year-old girls, I was so overwhelmed. I thought, “Yeah I’ve read about it, but here it is, right in front of me.” I wanted to weep, but I sucked it up and did what needed to be done. I don’t think a day has gone by where I have not wept over what I saw. I will be praying and remembering their faces often.

TER: What were the highlights of the trip for you? Or, what impacted you the most?Quote Lay a Brick

Carl: I would say the H-1* case has impacted me the most. I saw so many young girls, and I knew I got to go and sleep in a room about a half a mile away. But for the rest of that night and every night since, they have been sold. I know I was able to lay a brick by gathering new video footage. If I could complete the wall or be another part of it, I would fly back next week. … I’m so grateful for that opportunity and for the role I was allowed to play.

I would also say being able to sit and talk with a Ugandan trafficked girl was very eye opening. To transition from playing the role of a sex tourist to a man who cared and could actually speak life into her future was very rewarding.


Robert: The biggest highlight has been bonding with the team and making life-long friendships in a way most people never will. Watching the video and getting just the right screen capture is always very fulfilling for me. Having the opportunity to hand off cases to the police and see them agreeing with the team’s assessment was a big plus.

TER: Is there someone you met during your trip who you will never forget?

Carl: A little girl I saw and was able to record in the H-1 area. … She was maybe 12 years old or 13. I remember her smile and laughter as I tried to repeat her name and messed it up. She looked so innocent, and yet I won’t forget the things she had to do.

Robert: I did not get her name but there was a girl on the dance floor who was holding onto one of the poles and looked like if she could, she would melt into the pole and disappear. She wanted to be anywhere but where she was, and my heart broke knowing she couldn’t leave.

*Name changed

These responses have been edited for length, grammar and clarity.

Dear John: A Letter from a Covert Operative

Dear John

When The Exodus Road’s undercover operatives enter bars and brothels to gather evidence, they see disturbing images. They witness enslaved women sold for sex and they meet the men corrupt enough to buy them. These clear images and interactions recorded with covert gear are necessary to build solid cases against the traffickers. Then with the local authorities brothels can be closed and rescues can happen. The heaviness of these memories can haunt a person.

To help our operatives process what they’ve witnessed, we ask them to write letters. They write to three people: a victim, a customer (or “John”) and a human trafficker. Below is a composite* letter to a John.

Dear “John,”

I know you have a personal story that led you to this place. Your story is indeed unique, but it’s not done yet. I know this is not the person you were meant to be.  You were meant to be a protector, not a perpetrator. Every person has value and worth.

Can you imagine someone treating your daughter or sister like you treat these precious women? Don’t believe the lies that they want to be here. I want you to know it’s all a fantasy. They really don’t think you’re cute or sexy.

Most of the girls have children and many have families. Try to see that; try to remember that. I pray you begin to see things more clearly and understand what really happens in the bars and brothels.

I encourage you to think. There is freedom for you. I’m sure as you look back on your life, you may wonder how you got to this place, where you began soliciting sex slaves. The small compromises brought you here.

You can choose how you treat others. You have value, too, but when you abuse someone, (and, yes, this is abuse) you operate as an enemy to yourself and to others around you. Live in the light, and quit committing evil acts in the dark. Come clean and lift that heavy weight off your soul. I believe you crave intimacy, but your selfish activities are undermining your search for it.

I’m asking you to do something difficult that requires you to be honest about your motivations. Be brave enough to ask yourself hard questions. Gather around you people who lead lives of integrity and honor.

I pray your heart will change. I hope you begin to think less about immediate gratification and more about the soul of that girl.


A Covert Operative with The Exodus Road 

*This composite letter was assembled from various authors. It was edited for length, grammar, and clarity. This exercise is primarily to help the operatives process their experiences. We share it here in this format to allow readers to understand the intricacies of undercover work.