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The Exodus Road is a nonprofit which helps find and free slaves through strategic action and ordinary people. With headquarters in Colorado Springs, CO, we also work in India and SE Asia. Our SE Asia office is located in Thailand. Primarily, The Exodus Road empowers rescue for current victims of human trafficking, equips nationals to fight slavery in their own communities, and encourages effective collaboration among practitioners.

We are a registered 501c3 in the United States, and we are also a registered charitable foundation in Thailand.

The Exodus Road began through the work of Matt and Laura Parker in the Fall of 2011. Living and working in the counter-trafficking community in SE Asia, Matt began to see the deficiencies of intervention efforts due to a lack of funding, collaboration, training, and equipment. After building relationships for two years with both the government and local NGO’s and through his own investigative work into over 250 brothels, he and Laura began The Exodus Road as a means to empower and unite those in the field already working in investigations and interventions. Visit the page ‘How We Started‘ to read the full story. You can also read about he and his wife’s personal story by checking out their book, The Exodus Road. 
Both. Primarily, we fuel our own staff or vetted volunteers, including social workers, administrative staff, and undercover operatives. However, we also direct a portion of funding towards partners in collaborative projects which we deem are effective and fall in line with our mission. We also utilize contract operatives or grant funding towards strategic cases.  
While the term “rescue” is ambiguous in the counter-trafficking field particularly, when we use the word “rescue,” we are specifically speaking of a deliverance from a situation of current slavery or trafficking. This can include cases involving restricted movement, trafficking across borders, underage prostitution, debt bondage, labor trafficking, or pedophilia. All cases are worked under the authority of the local police, and our teams operate in a support-based role during the actual intervention activity.

When we use the term “active operative,” on our site, we are referring to individuals who have been vetted, trained, and empowered directly by our organization and remain on our current roster. Many of these individuals are not full-time employees. Rather, they are deployed volunteers who serve 2-4 weeks a year, contract national investigators, full-time national or Western operatives, volunteers with CHARLIE team in the United States, and investigators from partner organizations while working joint cases.  

There are three main areas of the fight against modern day slavery– prevention (awareness, education, sustainable development, etc.), intervention (investigations, raids, arrests, prosecutions, etc.), and after-care (trauma counseling, safe houses, rehabilitation, education for survivors, job training, re-integration, etc.) All three areas are crucial and require tenacious efforts. (You can read an illustration of this HERE.)

The Exodus Road was birthed out of a recognition of the deficiencies of intervention efforts specifically, and it will remain focused primarily to that end. We have developed an effective system and strategy for gathering evidence, analyzing data, and supporting rescues, and with so few organizations actively focused on empowering targeted interventions, we will remain in this area of focus.

We also believe that when arrests and prosecutions are made in respectful partnerships with the local governments, we are slowing the lucrative machine that is trafficking and the underage sex industry. When the local police raids and arrests, a message is sent to brothel owners, risk for illegal activities increases, and the bribed relationship between government and brothel owner (in some countries) is broken. We are not only rescuing the victim today, but we are also rescuing the many victims who the imprisoned brothel owner will not enslave tomorrow. This is a strategic, effective, long-term method of causing positive social change. We do fuel cases which are locally-based, as well as longer-term cases targeting higher level crime syndicates. 

The Exodus Road currently empowers teams in SE Asia, India, and the United States.
The TraffickWatch Program operates in the United States. Volunteers meet on weekend nights and are given assignments or places of interest to observe. They collect specific data, from the safety of their cars, and then make reports on what they see. This information is then fed into a database system, which highlights tips that are actionable, and then is delivered to local police partners. Currently, the TraffickWatch Program is in Colorado Springs and Phoenix, with plans to expand.
We believe accountability is critical in the nonprofit sphere, which is why we keep records, files, and a global database which documents our activities. Because of security, we are unable to make those records public, but we do document media releases, photos, statistics and details of operations when we are able.

When we talk about our organization’s progress regarding “supported  rescues” and “supported arrests,” we are referring to raids and arrests which The Exodus Road directly supported through significant financial investment, investigative support or manpower, the donation of covert gear or direct leadership. Victim rescues and perpetrator arrests are ultimately the responsibility of trusted police partners and we as an NGO only play a secondary role in gathering evidence, providing resources or support.

When we talk about “active operatives,” we are referring to the individuals who are currently serving with us to gather information about trafficking. These are not primarily full-time employees, but consist of: deployed Western volunteers, contract national operatives, full-time staff, and partnering operatives from other organizations while working on joint cases.

We believe strongly in partnerships, and we are a leading member of The Liberty Alliance, a network of strategic counter-trafficking organizations in SE Asia. While some of our relationships with other organizations are official, public, and surrounding formal projects, other partnerships are more organic and informal. When we use the term “partner” in our communications, we are referring to an organization with which we have an established relationships.

Because of the nature of our work, our stats are always changing, of course. Current statistics follow below.

The Exodus Road considers the safety of its operatives in the field of utmost importance. Because many of the agents live in the same countries where they are investigating, it is difficult for them to publicly show their faces, names or needs.

The Exodus Road utilizes both Western volunteer operatives, many of whom come from military or law enforcement backgrounds, as well employs a team of national investigators. Currently, most are male, but we do have several female operatives, as well. Because of security, most active operatives maintain secure identities. All operatives must pass an extensive vetting process, which includes a pysch evaluation, and field training. 

The Exodus Road has a standard operation procedure handbook by which all investigators while on mission with The Exodus Road or while using granted funds from The Exodus Road commit to adhering to. All operations also operate within local laws and in partnerships with local authorities. Agents are trained, travel in partners when engaging in higher level surveillance, and are committed to not further “victimizing” the victim during the course of investigations. With policy and accountability in place, The Exodus Road encourages quality, effective evidence-gathering practices for the entire community. All data gathered during operations is entered into our customized, encrypted database program which tracks and helps to analyze all intelligence gathered.
The physical and moral danger of undercover investigations, particularly in the sex industry, is another series of risks which our organization seeks to mitigate. Through defined standard operating procedures for field work and a rigorous vetting and training program for operatives, we make sure that operatives are experienced and employ our best practices for upright, professional behavior. In addition, with the use of covert gear which is required to run on most missions, the practice of operating in teams, and strict communications protocols in place, we operate with a high level of accountability. We do not allow operatives to investigate indivdually or without direct communications with a controller, or head operator. Using a centralized case management tool, operatives are required to input data they gather on a nightly basis, ensuring that information is current. Most of our deployed operatives come from a military or police background and have a level of defense or surveillance training, as well. We operate with emergency protocols in place, and always have the approval from a local police partner, should teams encounter a problem with local authorities while on mission. To protect against moral failure, we engage in regular debriefing/counseling, keep deployments short (typically two weeks), and make counseling services available to full-time field staff. We also invest in cyberforensic security tools to protect our organization from breaches of data. 
It can be. While we take precautions and measures to protect operatives and our organization, there is no denying the physical, emotional and moral danger of helping to find and free slaves from some of the darkest places on earth. We recognize this and work to operate as wisely as possible. This includes procedures like: a rigorous vetting process for operatives, including psychological evaluations, aggressive field training with safety measures, operating in teams of two or more on most cases, gps tracking and monitoring of operative activity, implementing strategic standards of operations, a heavy emphasis on team debriefing, and funding for operative counseling, as needed.  
Yes. The Exodus Road funds various projects which help individuals avoid becoming a victim of trafficking themselves. These projects primarily include education and training initiatives which creatively teach at-risk youth or national leaders about the realities of trafficking and how to protect themselves and their communities.
True deliverance does not end with a raid event, but must include quality restorative care for the victims. As an NGO whose niche focus is in empowering interventions, The Exodus Road is limited in what types of services they offer survivors, especially when government protocol is in place. While countries vary greatly in what level of care they offer victims, post raid (both government and private), we have learned that quality after care remains a critical element which is typically lacking resources and accessibility.

In an effort to ensure better victim care post raid for missions which they are involved in, the organization does offer three solutions.

  • They employ national social workers to follow and advocate for the victims through the legal and post-raid process, even if those victims are placed in government care.
  • They utilize a cloud-based database system to track victims from the point of his/her raid, immediate care, and long term placement, for up to three years.
  • Thirdly, they grant funds to underfunded partners specializing in after care projects to encourage better survivor services. They fund specific projects related to victims rescued by The Exodus Road, as well as victims in the care of trusted partners or government agencies. These projects have included: educational fees, repatriation fees, medical and counseling fees, debt repayment, emergency relief for an after care shelter, and job skills classes, to name a few.

We are committed to truthful reporting. The Exodus Road will not knowingly exaggerate or over-dramatize for the sake of fundraising, appearance, or competition.

We also are committed to protecting the rights and privacy of both our investigative team, slavery victims and exploited children. Because of that, certain facts in our reporting of actual cases will be “washed,” or altered to protect those involved. Places, dates, and names will often be changed, while actual details (such as number of victims rescued, money spent in operations, the “story”) will not be changed. We are also committed to protecting the methods by which our operatives gather their intel. Thus, we will not be giving sensitive information on strategies, types of equipment, or safety measures our team takes.

We will not show footage or reveal information from any live case, and undercover footage will only show faces of potential victims blurred or eyes blocked out to protect privacy.

Photos used on our site are typically representative and are rarely photos of actual victims, places, or investigators. You can read our full media policy HERE.

Great question, and one we get often. There are several reasons why “grabbing” a victim of trafficking apart from government sanction is not an acceptable course of action:

1. It is typically illegal and is qualified as kidnapping. Because it is of the utmost importance to keep positive working relationships with local governments, an NGO operative must work underneath the framework of the national police force. This method of “grab and go,” while seemingly the more compassionate solution, actually undermines the authority of the local government in destructive ways.

2. It does not help the big picture. Immediate and vigilante rescue apart from the law might save one victim of trafficking, but it does little to help future victims. Working within the legal system and with the local police are key elements to lasting social change, as human trafficking will become less lucrative with every arrest made and brothel shut down.

3. It is dangerous. Working outside of the law and independently puts all involved at greater risk, including the victim.

4. In some cases, however, there might be exceptions. If an undercover investigator finds a victim in grave and immediate physical danger, we encourage operatives to remove the victim and make immediate calls to local authorities for reporting and immediate help. Again, operatives must do everything possible to work within the framework of local authorities.

We believe in offering innovative, strategic tools to make the fight against trafficking more effective. To that end, we are constantly field testing various covert gear pieces for operatives. We also utilize a centralized, secure database system which tracks evidence gathered, locations investigated, and victim placement. In the near future, we are moving towards utilizing data analysts to asses this information gathered from field teams.

We also invest in cyberforensics gear to analyze information critical to higher level crime syndicates. You can expect this area of our work to greatly expand in the near future.

The Exodus Road is committed to fiscal responsibility and accountability. As a nonprofit corporation in good standing in the state of Colorado, we also have our 501c3 status from the IRS. Though not required, we have voluntarily undergone an Independent Financial Audit from the reputable accounting firm, Capin & Crouse, and have passed in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

You can see our full financial data by going here.

We operate on the support of a variety of sources. We have a large base of individual donors, and we also have received a host of private foundation grants from such organizations as Messenger International, ENDIT Movement, Equitas, and One Day’s Wages. We also have a host of corporate sponsors who donate to our cause on a regular basis. You can see list of our sponsors by going here.
No. The Exodus Road is a 501c3 nonprofit, registered with the US government, without religious affiliation.

We believe that one of our unique functions in this field is to gather as many people as possible “around the table” for the sake of bringing justice to the modern day slave. We also believe that because we work internationally, it is important for us to reach out in a neutral way to the governments with which we work. Right now, our teams in the field represent a variety of religions.

Having said that, the members of the executive leadership at this time do identify with the Christian faith and are motivated for justice out of their faith. Currently, many, but not all, of the after care facilities in our network are also faith-based. You can read an article we wrote about this philosophy HERE.

The Liberty Alliance is a network of which we are one of three key leaders including Freeland and Liberty Asia. We primarily offer collaborative training events, such as our annual Counter-Trafficking Leadership Conference. We also work together to establish best practices, share resources and information, and innovate big-picture solutions to trafficking, particularly in the SE Asian region.
We believe the strongest agents for social change are nationals. The Exodus Road will not operate as “white saviors” but rather will remain a persevering force in the background empowering nationals to greater success in their own freedom efforts. By filling in the gaps, we want to supply local governments and foundations with the tools they need– whether it be equipment, funding, strategy or training– to be successful at bringing greater justice to their own countries. Equipping nationals and civil society to fight trafficking will remain a core value of our organization. Though, we understand that this process will take a great amount of time and resources. This same mentality applies to the United States, as well, and is the main tenant of our TraffickWatch program.
Not right now. The focus of our organization is in undercover operations, and we do not believe this is a field where most people can safely get “hands-on” experience. We do occasionally host vision trips, where we invite people to see the problem of trafficking firsthand.
Our headquarter office is in Colorado Springs, Colorado and we have a small office in Phoenix, Arizona. We also have two international offices in SE Asia.
Both. Absolutely. We believe that every girl or boy trapped in slavery deserves freedom. If we lose site of the value of the one, we lose a bit of our humanity and compassion. So, yes, our teams work hard to rescue and care for each individual, specifically by advocating for their placement into qualified after care facilities in our network or with the government. We also recognize that the bigger-picture of trafficking must be battled within the legal systems of a local government. We understand that to slow the mechanisms of slavery, we must make it riskier and more expensive to buy and sell human beings. The primary way this is accomplished is via the local legal system.
We are building a tribe of ordinary people, committed to fighting slavery, and we want you to join us. Here are some avenues to get started:

Subscribe. The easiest way to stay connected with the work of The Exodus Road and its partners is to subscribe to our site/newsletter. It’s a free, simple way to not forget about us. You can enter your email on the footer or sign up HERE.

Become an Exodus Road Online Abolitionist. This team writes or shares stories from the field and uses their social influence to fight slavery. You can read more about this program by going HERE.

Give Financially. Fuel the efforts on the ground by committing to a monthly or one-time financial gift to The Exodus Road. You can also visit our site and help fund our latest project. Donate HERE. Sponsor an Investigator. The monthly backbone of our efforts is in surveillance through funds from our Search & Rescue Program. With $35/month, you’ll be sending out a local trained investigator to gather intel on where victims of slavery are located, and you’ll be connecting with a real field team. This is the first essential step in investigations. Join Search and Rescue HERE.

Volunteer. We have developed a host of ways you can practically impact the rescue work of the frontlines. From writing letters to becoming an online hero to bringing a Freedom Weekend to your community, we want you to have a variety of choices to help us. Get started HERE.

Socially Invest. Share, share, share. You have influence within your own circle of friends and family; leverage it for rescue. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest and personally invite others to do the same. Never underestimate the power of your voice.

We track the rescue operations we actively support and the victims of trafficking that are free as a result, the supported arrests in cases we work, the covert gear we utilize in the field, the volunteers and their progress in the TraffickWatch Program in the U.S., and the training programs we offer nationals. Current statistics follow below.
Supported Rescues
Active Operatives Empowered
Nationals Trained
Supported Arrests