All posts in “DELTA Team”

Investigator Story from Deployment | Meeting Sepo

Deployment Story from an Undercover Operative

Sepo. I can’t forget her.

She was selling herself on the street. She was from Zambia, and her smile was pure. To her, I was just another prospective john, but she treated me like a genuine friend.

And it’s that fact that has me in tears, weeks after deployment.

She’d been trafficked — sold on the idea that she’d teach English, only to discover upon her arrival to the city that there was no teaching job, that she now owed her traffickers 7,000 U.S. dollars, and she had only one way of paying it off. In that way, a sale to me would have represented another small step toward her freedom. What a price to pay.

Her price was about $60 USD, but it was negotiable. She would take whatever I could afford, and in return, I could take her body. She shared her story with me, which was heartbreaking. But the really gut-wrenching aspect of all of it never really hit home until I spoke with my post-deployment counselor.

The thing is, Sepo was a captive, but she was not crushed.

Despite her enslavement, she behaved with dignity and humility. . . . Sepo’s smile, though offered through a thousand different pains, felt so genuine. Her words did not bite or sting. She spoke with me as with a friend. . . . There she was, a slave, and yet she passed no pain or bitterness on to me — a presumed predator of her vulnerability.

I break down in tears remembering Sepo’s resiliency and strength. On one hand [in this work], one can see the horrific evil of which the human heart is capable, and in the same moment, through the demeanor of someone like Sepo, the greatness of humanity’s spirit is fully displayed.

– Aaron, DELTA Team Investigator, in his personal journal
June 27, 2017, after a deployment to SE Asia 
DELTA Team investigators work with national staff to collect valuable evidence for police partners so that women like Sepo will be freed from human trafficking. And while these expert men and women who work undercover are inspirations, they all report leaving deployments deeply changed and inspired themselves. Sepo’s case is still in progress.

*Sepo is a representative name meaning hope. Names and locations are changed to protect the exploited and those working for their rescue. The above is an excerpted journal entry from an actual operative. 

Want to help bring rescue? Learn more about our Search & Rescue program. 

The Exodus Road Bangkok Training January 2016

Team Training in Bangkok

By: Corinne Shark

In January, we kicked off this calendar year with a multi-regional Exodus Road training comprised of 23 of our executive leaders, managers, regional lead investigators and volunteer investigators from Asia, India and the U.S. who all converged in Bangkok, Thailand for the event. The conference room buzzed with vision, information, stats, cultural context and legal processes. Digital presentations and manuals were dissected point by point. Expectations and conduct, objectives and standards were emphasized. Personal testimony and actual video footage stoked the flame within even the most seasoned operatives, bringing every detail, every number, back to real victims with real names.

Training is vital to the success of every rescue with which The Exodus Road is involved, because while the issue of human trafficking is extremely emotional, our search and rescue work is anything but.

  • Training creates a more well-rounded understanding for everyone involved. It’s important for our staff to see what our investigators go through. It opens their eyes to the difficulties each of us experience and humanizes the whole process of this work.

    -Jim*, Regional Director

Training protects the victim. We place a high value on our victim-centered approach and believe training our teams is imperative in maintaining this focus.  Every member of the team, from undercover investigators to office staff, employs strategy and protocol at every turn in effort to protect the minors we are working to see freed from further danger and exploitation.

Training protects the investigator. Equipping our teams to assess and manage risk factors and to exercise safety tactics as they collect evidence in both red-light districts and rural villages is essential.  Even though many of our operatives are former military/law enforcement, the darkness they engage night after night requires a heightened level of vigilance and self-care. We are committed to their health and well-being as they leverage their strengths on behalf of the vulnerable.

Training protects the big picture. We believe lasting change is found in empowering the national authorities as they engage the issue of human trafficking within their borders. Educating our staff and teams on our supporting role facilitates positive relations with local law enforcement as well as maintains our value on contributing to long term systemic change.

Thailand 1.16 046 Training in Bangkok

  • I am happy to have been able to transfer some of the knowledge to my operations team. Also, it was great to meet members of the volunteer team from the U.S. They are great people with good hearts coming here to help victims of human trafficking.

    - Som Piyathamsawat, Operations Manager
Here at The Exodus Road we know successful raids, rescues and prosecutions begin with teams armed with more than just good intentions. We invest in the training of our staff and investigators because we know it will yield the freedom of many. Boys and girls, men and women. Victims of unspeakable violence. More than just a number. Each one, a name.

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