When law enforcement officers sat down to interview a girl who had been removed from exploitation, she might have been scared — but she was also brave.
She told them, “a trafficker is still out there. He goes by the name Jano.* He’s selling teenage girls.”
Law enforcement in this undisclosed Latin American country reached out to The Exodus Road’s team. Our investigators immediately began working to find Jano.
The search began on social media, where investigators combed through social media posts and activity on illicit websites selling sexual services. This led The Exodus Road’s team to a man in his 30s who owned and operated a beauty salon by day, trafficking teenage girls through parties at night.
Working under the cover of aliases and cover stories, investigators made contact with the man they suspected to be Jano and began trying to win his trust. They quickly realized that the network was far-reaching. The entire team would be needed to unravel it.
In addition to Jano, who was the kingpin, investigators began communicating with his accomplices — including the operation’s primary recruiter. The recruiter was a young, charismatic police officer who used his power to lure and groom teenage girls on social media. The girls were then coerced through physical abuse and threats into providing sexual services to men who purchased their time at Jano’s parties.
To gather enough information for police to act, investigators approached the trafficking ring from multiple angles simultaneously. One of them posed as a potential customer. Another posed as a fellow trafficker, convincing Jano that they might be able to collaborate.
Through the entire process, The Exodus Road team kept careful tabs on where the girls were being kept. Jano moved them at random to prevent anyone tracking him down.
When freedom came for the girls Jano was trafficking, it came in stages. The first time police officers moved on evidence from The Exodus Road, they found three teenage girls. All of the traffickers got away.
But they were not deterred. Law enforcement kept on the case for another week. That’s when they found and arrested Jano, the corrupt police officer, and three other traffickers. They also recovered an additional five girls, which meant a total of eight teenagers were freed.
A government social worker spent time with the girls, smoothing their transition into aftercare services. The survivors told their stories of terrible abuse at the hands of Jano and his accomplices, abuse that had kept them silent and controlled. The girls had not believed that freedom was possible.
But thanks to the courage of the survivor who offered the tip, investigators’ determination, dependable law enforcement partners, and the dedication of The Exodus Road’s community of supporters like you, eight survivors are walking into freedom.