For most drivers at this unremarkable traffic light in Brazil, all they noticed was the turning of the lights: red asking them to pause, green inviting them to move on.
A few of them might have noticed something while they waited at the red light. A young woman, clearly not much older than 20, stood at the side of the road. She was begging.
They might have made assumptions about what brought her to this crossroads. They might have tried to ignore her, uncomfortable with her presence. But it’s unlikely that any of them guessed the truth of her story.
The truth was that Candela* had been trafficked from her home country of Argentina, enticed into the neighboring country of Brazil by a boyfriend who claimed to care about her.
Instead of love, she found abuse at the hands of the man who should have protected her. Viciously controlling, the trafficker shattered her cellphone, cutting off Candela’s contact with friends and family. He then forced her to spend her days begging on the street corner, earning money to fuel his drug habit.
Candela stood beside the street alone, desperate to earn enough to satisfy her abuser. Her trafficker made sure she was watched, preventing her from trying to run.
But back in Argentina, Candela’s sister Micaela* was looking for her.
She contacted police in Brazil, sharing all of the information she had about Candela’s situation. Because of training through The Exodus Road’s TraffickWatch Academy Brazil, officers were able to identify that this was a trafficking situation. Police were able to use equipment that had been provided to them through a partnership between The Exodus Road and Cellebrite to gather additional digital intelligence.
That data helped officers find Candela — and the man who had exploited her.
They arrested the trafficker immediately. Then they called Micaela.
Micaela traveled for hours to get to Brazil and reunite with her sister. No longer alone, Candela was able to leave with Micaela and be restored to their family. Candela now has the opportunity to recover from her nightmarish ordeal.
The Exodus Road is committed to continuing to equip Brazilian police officers with the training and equipment needed to combat human trafficking in all forms as effectively as possible.
To learn more about what trafficking situations look like where you live, you can equip yourself with powerful preventative information through our free TraffickWatch U.S. training!
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*Name and imagery representative