When you think of sex trafficking, you imagine it to be in some poor areas of India, Asia, or Africa. Believe it or not, it’s everywhere. The United States even has [major!] issues with human trafficking and exploitation.
For example, In 2016, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported 7,621 cases while the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children received up to 8.2 million reports. California made the top of the list in the numbers of human trafficking cases in America, with Texas, Florida, Ohio, and New York as runner ups.
Thankfully, now, some heroes are taking action. Saved In America (SIAM), co-founded by Joseph Travers, is a group of volunteers, including retired Navy SEALs, police investigators, and other experts, who are rescuing these victims.
The 16-Year-Old Girl
Among the human trafficking cases in 2016, was a 16-year-old girl who was abducted along with a friend while riding their bicycles. Her parents, Maureen and David, contacted the police about the situation. The police were handling the case as a runaway.
The parents spent hours calling friends, family, neighbors, and anyone else that may have seen them. They even hired a private investigator, but after three weeks, they were no closer to finding her than the first day of her disappearance.
We knew the police were treating her like a runaway, and they just weren’t doing much. We were trying to do all we could ourselves, but it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. You could go broke hiring people to help you and still not find anything.
Finally, they decided to call SIAM. Less than a week later, SIAM rescued their daughter from criminals in Compton, California, who were planning to sell her into sex slavery.
Successful Rescue Rate
The team has an outstanding 100% success rate, rescuing all 197 people they investigated since 2014. Out of all the victims that SIAM has rescued, 60% of them were lucky enough to be found before they got trafficked. As for those victims that got rescued after they already got exploited, SIAM helps to procure legal representation, safe housing, and rehabilitative therapy.
“Most of the parents are in a panic stage, and they’re waiting for something to happen. So now the family is at a standstill. They have to go find their child on their own, and most people don’t know how to do that, so we fill that gap.”
When SIAM Began Saving Lives
In 2009, when Travers found out about the abduction, rape, and horrific death of teen Brittanee Drexel he was inspired to make an organization that rescues people from human trafficking. Shortly after, he founded SIAM.
“I knew that street gangs, prison gangs, and cartels took over drug trafficking in the 1980s, and then they took over sex trafficking at the turn of the century. When I read about Brittanee Drexel, who disappeared off the face of the planet, I just knew gangs were involved,” said Travers.
Travers son, Josh Travers, a former U.S. Marine, warns:
“People don’t realize this is going on in their own backyards. This isn’t in some far away country with very poor people. This could be your next-door neighbor, your child, anyone’s child. A lot of these kids are from a middle-class family in the United States. They aren’t incredibly poor or involved in abuse or bad situations at home.”
Law Enforcement Praise
The team has earned well-deserved endorsements from law enforcement, along with numerous letters from law enforcement officials praising their work and successes.
Mike Williams, a sheriff from Florida, wrote in a letter to Travers:
It is partnerships such as this that play a significant role in law enforcement today, not only from a public safety standpoint but also as an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those who have been victimized.
Most people who know SIAM are highly impressed by the team’s high-tech investigations and dramatic rescues with superb outcomes. However, Chief Toshiro Carrington, Special Operations, gives Travers’ master planning and organization all the credit for the groups’ success.
SIAM relies on donations from supporters to carry out their work, check out their website for more information or if you want to donate to the cause and help save some lives.