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O.U.R. Response To New York Times

Operation Underground Railroad Logo
Operation Underground Railroad

The New York Times Misses the Point:
Not Preventing Children from Being
Sexually Victimized Would be the Real
Misservice to Society

At Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), we are extremely proud to play a small part in helping to protect our society’s largest silent political constituency—the children.

A just published New York Times magazine piece raised the issue of whether one law enforcement program trying to address the problem of child exploitation, OperationNet Nanny” in Washington State, is the right approach to apprehending would-be child sexual predators.

The Times’ reporting questions whether hundreds of perpetrators, particularly some young men in their 20s, who have been identified, arrested, and successfully prosecuted for taking part in online “Net Nanny” sting operations, are being unfairly targeted and too harshly punished.

Following our mission to help protect children from sexual exploitation, our organization has become a strong supporter of Operation “Net Nanny,” a preventative-minded child protection initiative the New York Times acknowledges has a 95% conviction rate in hundreds of cases that have gone to trial.  O.U.R. is proud to back this effort and others that help prevent children from being sexually victimized in the first place.

The select cases highlighted by the New York Times (out of hundreds) were largely those of young men in their 20s with no prior criminal records.  The Times chose to only mention in passing that “some caught in stings are violent predators.”  This included 60-year-old Curtis Pouncy, whom the Times noted has “a history of brutal sex crimes” that “included raping a 13-year-old girl he picked up from a bus station as well as a 19-year-old at knife point.”  Pouncy was arrested in a Washington State “Net Nanny” operation while on supervised release in early 2019.  He is now serving life in prison.

One of the hundreds of cases the Times did not highlight was that of Bryan Earle Glant, 24, of Seattle.  Glant, a well-resourced young man, was tried, convicted, and sentenced to nine years in prison on two counts of attempted first-degree rape of a child.  Emails and text messages contained in his court record show Glant arranging through online communication to meet “Hannah,” a police officer posing as a mother, to engage in sex acts with her two daughters, ages 6 and 11.  Glant did not just discuss doing something online.  His messages were not the mere unguided explorations of a young man.  No.  He acted, showing up at the agreed location with lubricant in his pocket.

Imagine if police and their Net Nanny operation were not on the other side of the door that day.  How would the lives of those 6- and 11-year-old children have been different?

At his trial and on appeal, Glant unsuccessfully tried to argue that O.U.R.’s support of the “Net Nanny” program was “outrageous government conduct.”  We were pleased that the court rightfully dismissed those claims.  We are also pleased the court reaffirmed our lawful ability and efforts to provide tools and resources to help law enforcement agencies get those who chose to prey on our children off our streets.

The New York Times led readers to believe that there were “no victims” in “Net Nanny” cases.  This is not factual.  “Net Nanny” cases did result in the rescuing of actual victims.  While the “Net Nanny” arrests of perpetrators did not involve physical contact with a child, in several cases victims of those arrested came forward or the Washington State Police found evidence where the predators did sexually abuse a minor.  The majority of victims who came forward in “Net Nanny” cases were under the age of 11.

Throughout the life of the “Net Nanny” program, law enforcement involved in its supervised multi-jurisdictional operations followed protocols—and the judicial system agreed, clearly finding there was no entrapment under long-standing and tested legal standards.

How the judicial system decides to serve justice on those lawfully charged with violating the law is an issue left for each state to determine, including the severity of sentencing for convicted child sex offenders.

In the end, keeping child predators off the street is paramount, and we will always support law enforcement in their legal efforts to protect children, hopefully before they are preyed upon.

We believe among the best tactics in the fight to bring child sex exploiters, propagators, and abusers to justice is supporting and helping arm the good guys with better technology and expertise.  Domestically, this involves public/private partnerships that help support the nation’s law enforcement officers and prosecutors at the federal, state, and local levels in their important work by providing technology, software, expertise, and training where taxpayer budgets fall short.

This also involves sharing the latest intelligence we glean through legally authorized work O.U.R. does internationally with law enforcement, NGOs, and governments to help rescue victims of child sex exploitation, abuse, and trafficking.  To date, O.U.R. has assisted in the rescue of more than 4,000 victims globally since our first international operation in 2014.

Since our founding, O.U.R. has always worked hand in hand with law enforcement in the U.S. and abroad, and we will continue to do so, helping to provide the necessary ammunition so they are well-armed and equipped to stop predatory trollers seeking their next child victim.

Our team is composed of top former federal, state, and local law enforcement professionals experienced in child exploitation, trafficking, and digital world policing.  One of our newest team members is the former head of the Washington State PatrolNet Nanny program, Carlos Rodriguez, who joined O.U.R. this year following a distinguished 27-year law enforcement career.

We are honored to have Carlos on our team now.  Together with professionals at all levels of the public and private sectors, we can pool our knowledge, resources, and collective passion to protect children at home and abroad to make sure shrinking budgets never deter anyone from the ultimate goal: safeguarding innocent children and bringing guilty perpetrators who seek to prey on them to justice.

Law enforcement and child protection advocacy groups have done unheralded yeoman’s work in the past 20 years to strengthen efforts to combat the unconscionable exploitation of children.  But there remains so much more that must be done.

Today, the sad truth is this:  we still do not know the full extent of the enticement, exploitation, and in far too many instances, the sexual assault, of children.  In the U.S., the most developed nation in the world, the country’s leading measure of criminal victimization—the National Crime Victimization Survey—still does not measure crimes against children under 12.

Those who want to underestimate scale of the problem or claim to know with certainty who is motivated to criminally victimize a child in the many forms it takes are not being truthful.  We simply don’t know.

What we do know with certainty is that with each passing day, our children are becoming even more dependent on the Internet and increasingly engaged in the exploration of online and digital virtual worlds, even more so in the present moment with millions still staying home because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Honestly ask yourself this question—in the world we live in today, do we want law enforcement to have more resources, tools, and public and private support to combat child exploitation and abuse, or not? 

Operation Net Nanny 16th By WSP MECTF

.jpg photo of Law Enforcement Operation stopping child sex predators graphic
COLLABORATION: OPERATION NET NANNY

Operation Net Nanny: 19 ARRESTS
in KITSAP COUNTY

KITSAP COUNTY, WA  –  Nineteen dangerous sexual predators who targeted children in Kitsap County were removed from the streets, thanks to a multi-day operation run by the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and several partner agencies.

Dubbed “Operation Net Nanny,” this is the 16th operation spearheaded by the WSP’s Missing and Exploited Children Task Force (MECTF), an Internet Crimes Against Children affiliate.  Since the original operation in August 2015, MECTF has netted a total of 271 arrests and rescued more than 31 children across the state.

The funding for this operation was made possible due in part by support from the public as well as a generous donation from Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.).  O.U.R. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) who shares the mission of law enforcement agencies to save children and see that child predators are arrested and prosecuted. O.U.R. is privileged and honored to partner with our nation’s law enforcement heroes in this important cause to combat the sexual exploitation of children in our nation’s communities.

MECTF’s primary mission is to proactively target those persons involved in child abuse and child exploitation via the internet.  “This operation is aimed at protecting our vulnerable children.  We will not rest in our efforts to make Washington communities safer and appreciate our partners in this important work” says WSP Chief John R. Batiste.

From July 25, 2019 to July 29, 2019, undercover law enforcement officers used various websites on the internet and phone applications to communicate with people interested in having sex with children.  The operation generated hundreds of responses.  The would-be perpetrators who were arrested during the operation traveled to meet with the undercover detectives posing as underage girls and boys with the intent to engage in sexual activity with children as young as six years old.

Primary crimes investigated are:

  • RCW 9A.44.073 – Rape of a child in the first degree – attempt
  • RCW 9A.44.076 – Rape of a child in the second degree – attempt
  • RCW 9.68A.100 – Commercial sexual abuse of a minor
  • RCW 9.68A.090 – Communication with a minor for immoral purposes

The names of the individuals arrested during the operation are:

  • Joseph T. McCarthy, 23, Maple Valley
  • Anthony J. Tangonan, 24, Bremerton
  • Owen T. Shreve, 27, Poulsbo
  • Hector C Escobar, 26, Lakewood
  • Jordan M. Kaufman, 24, Port Orchard
  • Kendall N Spann, 25, Bremerton
  • Bradley D Petrie, 21, Bremerton
  • Skyler L Barkdull, 20, Tacoma
  • Timmothy A Hoskinson, 49, Bremerton
  • David Bagby, 39, Port Orchard
  • Mathew E Sanches, 25, Tacoma
  • Zachary M. Drouin, 26, Olalla
  • Dominic J. McGill, 27, Lynnwood
  • Reid A. Weeks, 64, Woodland
  • Noah A. LaFountaine, 22, Bremerton
  • Jason C. Steele, 46, Seattle
  • Travan T. Tagaloa, 33, Bremerton
  • B. A. Youngblood Simpson, 26, Bremerton
  • Jimmy S. Howard, 46, Bremerton

“The number of arrests made during this operation is extremely disappointing,” said Bremerton Police Department Chief Jim Burchett.  “I hope that someday we conduct an operation like this and no one responds.  Until that time, we will continue taking proactive steps to keep our kids safe, including partnering with the Washington State Patrol Missing and Exploited Children Task Force in the outstanding work they do in protecting children from predators.”

Anyone with information related to the suspects listed, or information leading to the identity of victims potentially involved in these cases please contact MECTF at mectf@wsp.wa.gov.

“The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office will continue targeting those persons who engage in victimizing the most vulnerable members of our communities, our children, through sexual abuse and human trafficking,” said Kitsap County Sheriff Gary Simpson.  “Working as part of the WSP task force optimizes our investigative and enforcement capabilities ten-fold, which assists us in holding these perpetrators accountable for their actions.”

The collaborative effort involving more than 60 dedicated law enforcement officers, agents, and staff led to the success of this operation.  Those agencies involved include:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation’s South Sound Child Exploitation Task Force
  • Homeland Security Investigations
  • Naval Criminal Investigative Service
  • Bremerton Police Department
  • West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team
  • Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office
  • Jefferson County Sherriff’s Office
  • Washington State Attorney General’s Office
  • Washington State Patrol High-Tech Crime Unit
  • Washington State Patrol Criminal Investigation Division
  • Washington State Patrol Field Operation Bureau
  • Washington State Patrol Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit
  • Washington State Patrol Missing and Exploited Children Task Force (MECTF)
  • Washington State Patrol Fusion Center
  • Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Maui Police Department ~ Hawaii
  • Alabama Attorney General Office

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

DONATE TODAY

.jpg photo of Operation Underground Railroad Logo graphicIn the past five years of existence, O.U.R. has rescued 2,760 victims and assisted in the arrests of more than 1,493 traffickers around the world.

The Abolitionist

THE ABOLITIONIST
THE FILM

http://theabolitionistsmovie.com/the-film/

On December 10th, 2013 Special Agent Tim Ballard turned in his Homeland Security badge and resigned from his employment with the United States government.

He had spent over a decade rescuing children from child sex tourism both domestically and overseas. Though his job was difficult, he was proud that his country was one of very few in the world who was actually doing anything about this problem.

However, mired in red tape and bureaucracy, Tim left to begin saving the children that he saw falling out of the purview of the US government.

These children constitute over 90% of the children lost to child sex slavery and he could do nothing to help them while in the employment of the US government.

This is a story about the lost children and the OURrescue.com jump team’s exploits as they investigate and liberate enslaved children from around the world.

Official Movie Trailer

Directors Statement

When we first set out to make this film we wanted to help the cause but all we could do is make films. Knowing very little about the actual world of child sex trafficking, we were nervous about
how the experience would impact each of us and our families.

Chet and I have relayed very little to our families. In some small way I now understand why veterans from wars don’t go home and
brag about what they’ve done or tour around giving speeches about their experiences on the battlefield.

How selfish that perspective now seems after having seen the faces of these young children. It was an honor to follow these brave men and women and be a part of their team that is involved
in such important work.

We pray that our film lives up to the importance and weight of the cause.

29 Sex Trafficking Victims Including 20 Minors Rescued

Child Sex Slavery
Department of Homeland Security BLUE CAMPAIGN

U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Dominican, U.S. Authorities Rescue 29 Sex Trafficking Victims Including 20 Minors

U.S. Department of Homeland Security <departmentofhomelandsecurity@service.govdelivery.com>

– rstrongbow@notinmyworld.org – NOT IN MY WORLD!!!! Mail
March 23,2015

 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Dominican, U.S. Authorities Rescue 29 Sex Trafficking Victims Including 20 Minors

Dear Stakeholder,

We appreciate your continued engagement on the issue of human trafficking, and wanted to share with you a story of a successful investigation and rescue of sex trafficking victims in the Dominican Republic.

It is through the hard work and dedication of stakeholders like you, that we are able to investigate cases and work to bring traffickers to justice. Please see the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement press release below for more information on this case.

Thank you for your continued efforts to combat human trafficking. To learn more about human trafficking, how to identify victims, and report suspected cases of human trafficking, please visit http://www.dhs.gov/bluecampaign.

Dominican, US authorities rescue 29 sex trafficking victims including 20 minors

Victims as young as 14 years old

SOSUA, Dominican Republic – Twenty-nine sex trafficking victims were rescued in Sosua, Dominican Republic, March 11 following an international undercover law enforcement investigation.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Attaché Office in Santo Domingo, the Dominican National Police, the Dominican Republic’s Attorney General’s Human Smuggling and Trafficking in Person’s Unit and the Puerto Plata Prosecutor’s Office conducted the investigation leading up to the rescue.

Twenty of the 29 victims are Dominican minors between the ages of 14 and 17. The remaining nine sex trafficking victims are adults. All of the victims are female.

The rescued victims, who are minors, are in the care of the Dominican Republic’s Child Protective Services Agency.

As part of the investigation, seven Dominican nationals – two females and five males – were arrested. They’re in local custody where they will serve one year of preventative incarceration while their cases are adjudicated. Prosecutors allege the traffickers knowingly transported the victims to what they believed was a “sex party.” They also knowingly arranged for the victims to perform sexual services for adults attending the fake party.

Those arrested include: Rubén Darío Sosa, Luis Manuel Martínez Castillo, Franklin Sánchez García, Rolfi Ismael Ventura, Manuel Emilio Martínez, Idalia Luciano Ferrera and Aniberca Castro Peña.

Law enforcement did not arrest any American citizens as part of this investigation.

The Puerto Plata Prosecutor’s Office is prosecuting the Dominican nationals. If convicted, the defendants face up to 15 years imprisonment.

Operation Underground Railroad and International Justice Mission, both U.S. nonprofit organizations dedicated to eradicating the sexual exploitation of children, assisted with the investigation.

“We commend the government of the Dominican Republic and U.S. law enforcement for their commitment to eradicating the sexual exploitation of human beings,” said U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James W. Brewster. “It’s unconscionable that people, including children, are being sold for sex in the 21st century. The U.S. government will continue working with our partners both domestically and abroad to bring this evil practice to an end.”

Through its International Operations, HSI has 65 operational attaché offices in 46 countries around the world. HSI special agents work closely with foreign law enforcement agencies through a robust network of specialized, vetted units known as Transnational Criminal Investigative Units. Additionally, HSI brings personnel from host countries to the United States to train at the Department of Homeland Security Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia.

For the most up-to-date ICE information, sign up for ICE email alerts. You may also visit us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.