All posts in “Missions Completed”

Teen Boy Rescued from Asian Massage Parlor

Teen boy rescued from massage parlor in Thailand

Today, a 16-year-old boy from Myanmar is free. After being exploited for sex in a male massage parlor in Southeast Asia for 20 days, Ye* was rescued. Based on evidence gathered by The Exodus Road’s investigators, local police rescued Ye and arrested two traffickers in Operation EDEN.

Our team in Southeast Asia and our deployed operatives had worked tirelessly on the case for nine months, gathering evidence and then supporting police to execute the raid.

One of our American investigators, who had worked on this case during a deployment, said that this massage parlor was the case that weighed heaviest on him. But he was glad to make that sacrifice for Ye’s freedom.

The innocence I lost on this trip and the trauma that will stick with me is such a small price to pay compared to what these victims experience regularly,” he said after returning home from the deployment. “I truly believe that if everyone could see what we dare to see, that it would begin to change our culture.”

The raid resulted in the arrests of the owner and manager, successfully shutting down the establishment. Police translated Ye’s Burmese ID to confirm his age and charged the two offenders with trafficking of a minor. The sentence for one count of human trafficking in this region can range from four to 20 years.

Multiple young men were being exploited at the massage parlor, but only Ye could be classified as a victim of human trafficking because he is under 18. The police are interviewing previous employees to continue building the case against the traffickers.Today, Ye is recovering in a government safe home for boys. The Exodus Road will follow up with Ye as he transitions into freedom.

This case is a huge victory for us to celebrate. Laws in this region require a heavier burden of proof before police can execute a raid, so our operatives had to persevere through obstacles and setbacks to make Operation EDEN possible. We are so grateful to the local law enforcement who put in incredible time and effort to push this case through to success.

*Ye is a representative name that means “brave” in Burmese. Names are changed for survivors’ safety.

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Sex Trafficking Survivor Escapes Brothel, Helps Rescue 4 More

Survivor escapes brothel, helps save four more trafficking victims

It was a Sunday night. Tanjia* had been in forced prostitution for three weeks after being trafficked from her home nearly 1,200 miles away.

She was forced to have sex with customers day and night, left with nothing but a plastic coin placed in her hand to tally the transactions. She had managed to contact an NGO for help. But as she waited for rescue, she was about to be moved again — the third brothel in three weeks.

Tanjia waited for an opportunity. When it came, she ran.

She called The Exodus Road’s country director Sudir,* who was planning a raid with his team and local police to rescue Tanjia the very next day. He got the call on a bus, hours away. He and his team got to the city where Tanjia was waiting for urgent help.

They asked police how to respond to her situation. Based on direction from police, our female social worker stayed with Tanjia in a hotel overnight until the team could take her to police to register a case.

Tanjia’s courage had to hold out. Police would need her testimony in order to raid the brothel, arrest the traffickers, and rescue any other victims they could find. She gave investigators the information they needed, and Sudir’s team conducted the raid with police that day.

In Operation FREEDOM RUN, our team helped arrest four traffickers and found four more victims in the brothel, who had been trafficked from Bangladesh. During the initial search, operatives were unable to find the victims. It wasn’t until they heard the sound of a baby crying that they were able to discover the small, hidden room where the four victims were being held. One of the girls was as young as 14 years old.

A High-Risk Operation

Although every raid can be dangerous, this operation was a special case. This brothel is owned by the most powerful brothel keeper in the area: a woman who owns more than 15 brothels, just in that area alone.

She and her husband regularly traffic girls from Bangladesh and other areas of India, and have been known to bribe police and NGOs to maintain their operations. According to our team, this brothel keeper has been operating for 10 years without being raided by police.

“We targeted the biggest brothel keepers who have bribed many NGOs and police officers,” Sudir said. He said the notoriety of the brothel keeper increases risk and need for precautionary measures.

Corrupt and dangerous operating environments require investigators to bring operational excellence to bear on each case. The Exodus Road’s Tactical Advisory Board gives guidance and accountability on rescue operation strategy, risk mitigation, and maintaining focus on victim protection.

Transitioning to Freedom

All of the survivors were taken to a government home for recovery and had to appear in court two days after their rescue. Sudir contacted Tanjia’s parents, who will soon bring her home to her three children, ages 3 to 10. Our team will continue to follow up and help with her legal process.

“The best part of this case is that Tanjia showed bravery to tell the truth,” Sudir said. “She trusted us and called us for help. Not only this, but she helped rescue four more victims and helped arrest four people.”

*Sudir and Tanjia are representative names. Tanjia means deliverance in Bengali, her language. Names of operatives and survivors are changed for their safety.

What can I do?

You may not be able to personally bring girls safely out of brothels, but you can still join us in rescue work. Learn more about Search & Rescue and how we help rescue the enslaved.

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