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Operational Updates and CSAM Awareness

Lantern Rescue / Lantern Rescue
The Truth Network Radio
August 19, 2023 12:00 pm

Operational Updates and CSAM Awareness

Lantern Rescue / Lantern Rescue

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August 19, 2023 12:00 pm

Today, Robby speaks with Lantern founders Ren and Mark. Listen as they give information about the latest CSAM investigations going on stateside. 

A warning: this program contains sensitive content. Listener discretion is advised.

Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) at 1-888-373-7888.

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Truth Talk
Stu Epperson
Truth Talk
Stu Epperson
Truth Talk
Stu Epperson
Truth Talk
Stu Epperson

This is Rodney from the Masculine Journey Podcast, where we explored manhood within Jesus Christ. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few seconds.

Sit back, enjoy it, share it. But most of all, thank you for listening and choosing the Truth Podcast Network. This is the Truth Network. Well, we certainly have a treat for you today on Lantern Rescue, as it doesn't happen very often, but we actually have Wren and Mark in the same room at the same time. And we got lots of updates that we'd like to hear about. So Wren, what have you guys been up to? Yeah, it's crazy for us to actually be in the same room at the same time.

You know, that doesn't happen a ton. And if it does, we're kind of running around and doing a thousand other things. So we actually sit down and do a podcast together for the first time in quite a while. But I'm down visiting the team right now, visiting our office, getting ready for an event that we have coming up. So and we've had a lot of stuff going on in the last couple of months. It's been a little bit since I've been on the podcast.

Yeah. So what has been going on, you know, over those two months that you've been involved in? Yeah, so in the last couple months, you know, there's been a lot going on stateside. We've been getting involved in a lot of CCAM investigations. We've had some human trafficking investigations come up here in the United States. We've done some very recent recovery of victims here in the states and arrests of johns that were soliciting trafficked victims, minor victims being trafficked, actually, here in the United States. And we've had, you know, I can't even count how many images of CCAM we've processed here in the state. Well over 10,000, I would say, in the last few months. And, you know, countless arrests and people are facing a lot of a lot of prison time, the amount of prison time that's being faced right now is in the I think 75,000 years if you combine all the defendants.

So, you know, we've got some really good stuff. You know, unfortunate that that's something that we're we're dealing with. But I think there's been a huge shift, especially in the last couple months. There's been a huge shift with people understanding and starting to really grasp how serious the crime of CCAM is. And that even though it's a quote, no touch offense, that it has these lasting implications on the individuals that are featured in the images and how much it affects. We've seen in the last couple months, we've seen trials, complete trials of CCAM where all the several hundreds of images are shown to the jury and watch the jury's reactions. So now not only are the victims victimized by what happened to them and these images that are created. Now you're involving a judge and a jury and a defense attorney and a prosecutor and all these other people that are brought in and had to view these images and had to process all this and, you know, have to deal with with that trauma to them as well.

Wow, that's that's, that's quite an update. And how about you, Mark? Hey, you know, first of all, I'm so excited. We are in the same room together because Ren and I talk all day, every day, like all of our team, but man, we're just all over the place. And which is indicative of who we are. Like we're we are not an office. We talk about an office. We have our marketing people, but we're not we're on the go. Like we're not pay to play. Like we're working so hard in the countries we're in, we're working so hard in the states that we live in that if we're not working a case, you know, we're just not working. And so we're always working cases. You know, we're always attached to rescue operations and arrests. And that's what we built here at Lantern. And that's what donors who are listening to us. That's what you're paying for.

You're you're you're paying for the rescue operations and the arrest of people. And we're just blessed that we get to do that. Here we sit today. The only reason we're here is because we actually have an event tomorrow that we really prayed about and developed because we didn't want it just to be about Lantern.

We wanted it to be about awareness and human trafficking domestically. And we kicked that off by partnering with our own city, our own county where and it has become such a large event. We're so excited about it.

So after this airs, people will have already missed it, unfortunately. But I can't imagine how many runners we have signed up. It's like way up there.

It's just incredible. I'm for sure going to beat Mark and Metta in that race tomorrow. Also, just want to point that out. Definitely will because my back is killing me because I've been wearing body armor for the last four weeks. So I'm pretty out of it. Um, so I have been I have I have been internationally I've been overseas.

I've not been in the state. You know, we have been helping a lot of those who are displaced, a lot of people who are in need of safe passageway, a lot of people who are in need of life saving skills. So that's been my mission set for the last four, four and a half weeks. We are getting ready to transition. We will say we have a very, very couple of large operations coming up. We're busy. We've got one in one part. We'll say we're one part of the world, which you may want to comment on that.

Yeah. So in a couple days and soon I'm leaving me and the team are going down to a country in the Caribbean. And we're going to be recovering some minor victims of sex trafficking that we've got a big investigation going on down there. So when we get back, we'll definitely keep you guys updated on that. Yeah, we have a lot going on. And you know, there's there's always something going on somewhere. And the teams that we have in place, the local assets, they're so instrumental in this work and they're so incredible to keep the mission going even when we're not there with them.

And then when we get there, we link up and it's like no time has passed at all. And, you know, we go on and do what we've got to do with them. Following that in West Africa, we have a case that involves, we think, over 100 victims. It's enormous, enormous undertaking with immigration, labor department ministry, police, our investigators on our intelligence gathering, our task force. I don't know how many agents are going to be involved in this, but it's going to be a lot. And so another while Ren is doing that operation, another team is going to be handling that operation and myself and we are excited about seeing a big change for over 100 kids. So and I mean, they're in a really hard situation.

They're in a deep situation of trafficking and slavery and it's bad. So we can't wait to get them out of that, make the arrest, clean those kids up. So a lot happening, you know, you know, the updates, the updates we've been getting are the numbers this year as far as rescues. It's just way, way, way, you know, God has certainly blessed that tremendously. And and so if, you know, you guys, you add those two and it just seems like this year, God has just really opened some doors for us, right?

Yeah, it's been really incredible. And, you know, I think the biggest door for, in my opinion, that's been opened is the change in people's hearts and minds. You know, when we first started this work, however many years ago it's been now, I think we've lost track. But people didn't want to hear about it. They didn't want to look at it.

They might support us while we're right in front of them. And it's hard to turn away. But it felt like it was easily forgotten or people weren't taking it as seriously. But now it seems like people are really transitioning to this place where they understand how bad this is and they're committed in the long term and they're actually willing to look at these crimes. And that's something that, especially when we're doing the CCAM investigations and the prosecutions, it's so easy to turn away from stuff. It's so hard to look at, so alarming, so painful and so dark. But when people are able to open their hearts and minds to this work and that even though it's painful that it needs to happen, I think that's been a huge transition in the last couple of years.

Yeah, it is. And we have such a good reputation, God bless us with a good reputation, that we actually do move the needle in the countries that we work in. That we help them build sustainable programs and that we are always supporting them. And that support looks like initially we just live and breathe with them and train with them and then operate with them. And then eventually as they start to take the wheel themselves and begin to work their own cases, we're always there advising, doing operational planning with them, always helping them all the way move these things down the road.

So that's built a really good reputation for us, Robbie. I mean, and it's unfortunate, I think there are other organizations that we don't want to miss in my name, but I mean it's just we operate in a different way than a lot of groups. And so I'm not saying they're bad, it's just we're different, you know, and they like the way we're different. Yeah, it's been this work, there's room at the table for everyone and anyone that wants to get involved and help out in this work is, you know, that's good. And especially they're feeling like the Lord's calling them to do this work. But the differences between organizations is really what's helpful and what makes us so effective in what we do is just the way that we're, you know, we're set up and how we handle our operation. Yeah, it's all about the people in so many different ways and God has certainly blessed you with amazing trainings and backgrounds and connections. Like the connections just blow my mind. Yeah, it's always awesome connections with local people that have the background skill set for us to cultivate to work and to hold their arms and hands up so they can do even more, you know.

God just always sends us the right people. Yeah, always. It's incredible. It really is. Yeah, just some crazy situations where I've met somebody who now works for us.

Yeah. And you're like, I mean, it's like a needle in a haystack to find this person and then here we are, you know. Well, we got a lot more coming at you on this update coming from Landon Rescue today, so stay tuned. And by all means, if you have the opportunity, go to and see where you can plug in, either by giving financially or joining the prayer team or volunteering for something. It's all there at

We'll be right back. Landon Rescue is a USA based organization that conducts international rescue operations for people suffering from human trafficking. Landon specializes in sending former U.S. special operation law enforcement and intelligence personnel to partner with host nations and assist them in creating specialized units to combat ongoing security problems such as genocide, terrorism and human trafficking.

As a nonprofit charity, they offer services free of charge to their host nations. Human trafficking has grown into the second largest criminal activity in the world, reaching an estimated 150 billion dollars in annual activity. Landon Rescue has developed rapidly to combat trafficking. Landon operates through a trained international network in order to rescue women and children from sex and labor slavery and facilitates holistic aftercare services. They're gearing up for operations right now, and you can go to to see how you can support them financially.

Welcome back to Landon Rescue and today's update. We've got so many wonderful things going on, but we're going to circle back a little bit for a minute with you, Wren, on these images and can you kind of go into a little bit more of what was captured there and how that's actually used in the process of the trials? Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, a CCAM case might be something that's like a little less familiar to most people. So what that basically looks like is a CCAM, we've talked about it before, but just to reiterate is child sexual abuse material. It's the word we're using instead of child pornography.

So that word is being transitioned into a lot of different places in the world instead of using the word child pornography. So we're going to talk about CCAM and basically what happens with a CCAM case is there's many different ways that that can even spark like how do you even find out about that case? So there's, you know, someone sees it on someone they know's device, whether it's their phone or laptop, they happen to be looking for something else and they stumble upon CCAM images, right? Or it can be through a cyber tip where the person that is soliciting, that is downloading, that is receiving the CCAM, they've received an image or sent an image that is hash valued or it's been known to send an image. So it goes through a processing system and it will basically send up a red flag to law enforcement. Law enforcement will find out they will be able to see those flagged images and then they start their investigative process there.

There's other ways, but those are probably two of the most common. So after that happens, the investigation begins and the law enforcement will set to serve their warrant, they'll use the devices, they'll do phone extractions, like spicy. And in most, if not all cases, whatever image was seen by the person that happens to be looking on the device or whatever image was sent through the hash value system and it flagged, there's usually a lot more on the device that weren't seen or weren't flagged. So as the investigators are doing the extraction, they will find all these other images.

So while the cyber tech might say three images of known CCAM, they end up having 3000 on the device or whatever that looks like. So once all of that extraction is done and the court process is underway, there's a lot of steps along the way. You know, you have your preliminary hearings, you have your arraignments, you have XYZ.

They can opt for a plea deal at some point if that's even being offered. But if you get to the point where you're going to a full trial in front of a jury, that is when we're going to take those images. So prior to getting to the jury, the prosecutor and the officer, the investigating officer will sit down and go through the images. And this can happen a bunch of different ways. Sometimes if the officer goes through them, sometimes the prosecutor, it looks different, but you look at the images and you identify what's in the images.

Approximately the age of the child. Is there a sexual assault being depicted? Is there self abuse being depicted? You know, are they entirely nude images or are they partially nude? And you kind of categorize them. And that's done for a multitude of reasons. But one of them is based on whether your sexual assault depicted in the age of the child, the grading of the offense can change. And what's important about that is when the grading of the offense is increased, then that defendant is facing more potential time in prison and that's generally what you're going to want. So when you sit down and you actually go through the images, and that is very hard, it's very draining, it's very challenging to do this. You go through all these images and you grade them properly and you amend the complaint so that the charges are appropriate for the image that it reflects. There is an option to just go through and grade them at the lowest level, you know, 500 images of CSAM, not go through them personally, but just grade them at the lowest level and stipulate the possession, which means that when we get to trial, we're not going to be stipulating about whether these images are CSAM or not. There's already a stipulation, so the images aren't shown to the jury. While that is good in some aspects, sometimes the jury needs to see what is actually happening rather than just seeing this black hole where we're just saying, you know, this person had CSAM images, now we're going to litigate about whether he possessed them, whether he knew they received him, or whatever the issue is they want to litigate about at the trial. So, the most recent trials that have been done in my area, all of the images were shown to the jury.

There was no stipulations accepted in those trials. And the reason for that was to show the jury what CSAM is, because there's a lot of missed infections, a lot of people don't deal with it. And how that happens is you take all the images, in those cases, there were several hundred in each, and you set them into a presentation and you put an expert on the stand. And in these cases, the expert was a child forensic expert in development. So he is an expert in looking at a child and basically estimating what age they are, and the manner of them. So what he would do is we'd get him on the stand, he'd go through every image, and would say, you know, based on the development in these areas, there's the Tanner scale for child development, you can look up and it basically tells you, based on how much development they have in certain areas, their body approximately their age and their distance from puberty, whether it's pre or post, and you know, kind of, you know, what's going on there. So with that, it means that we have to go through every single image, sometimes it includes zooming in on these images and the jury and the judge and the defense attorney and whoever else is in the room has to watch all of this.

So and then he'll also go into, you know, whether the mannerisms of the children, whether they seem like they're, you know, in pain, whether it seems like it is, you know, abnormal for that age group to be conducting the activities that they are. So it's a really hard thing to do. And it's a really hard, it's not a good time for anyone involved. And especially I have a lot of sympathy for the juries and a lot of concern for them and their mental health. Because this isn't something a lot of us have gone into prosecutors, and even, you know, judges to an extent and defense attorneys and law enforcement officers, they go into this world and they go into that field, knowing that they're going to encounter horrific things. Whether it's CSAM, whether it's sexual assault, whether it's homicide, you know, even if it's a really bad heart attack, you go into the field, we kind of take on that burden when we go into it. Juries don't.

It is just 12 people chosen at random from the local community. And then they're suddenly in this trial watching this horrific stuff that they never signed up for. And, you know, maybe they don't have the personal support system back at home. And they're also not allowed to talk about the trial while it's underway. So they have to go home if it's more than that. They have to go home if it's more than a one day trial, they're going home each night, and having to live with this and not being able to talk to anyone about it.

And then when trial's over, you know, they have to live with the burden of seeing these images and of what just happened to them and knowing that those children are still out there. So with the images, with the reports that are talking about earlier and hash rallying system, sometimes not all the time, sometimes the victims are known. So their identity is known to law enforcement, and we're able to contact them and determine if they want to come.

You present at the trial or not, or they can have their preferences, but no contact. But more often than not, we have mostly unidentified children in these images, which means that as reviewing images in trial, as I'm showing them to the jury, as the judges looking at them as we're viewing these images, that exact moment, that's how they're being used. So we don't know who they are. We don't know where they're at. We haven't been able to identify them. We don't know who they are.

So it's hard to sit there with a jury and that they have, you know, they have questions in their minds like who this could be my child, who is this? Because they live in this town and we can't answer any of those. We don't know.

We don't know. They might still be out there being abused. They might be an adult now with their own kids.

They might, they might not be alive at all. It's really hard to sit through with the jury and throw them these images and then have to send them on their way with so many questions that we can't answer. It's a burden and it shows the impact of one person perversion, how one student professor, one student distributor, one student producer can affect entire communities.

Wow. And certainly an opportunity for all of us to be praying for the system, right? And God would give us wisdom and give the attorney's wisdom and give the prosecutor's wisdom and all the people involved on how best to do this. But obviously you've got to put the people away or, you know, it just continues. So it's, you know, the easier way out is obviously, you know, not going through these trials and stipulate into the images or giving a plea deal that they'll accept. But at the end of the day, while it's painful for us to go through these images and to view these images and we'll often make motions to close the courtroom so that the public isn't in there. So because I don't like people seeing that that's how it's been victimized.

I don't want more people to see their images of abuse. But in some context, you have to show them so what we can kind of control it. Okay, yeah, I wanted to I wanted to confirm to some things that were just presented on this show how important it is that, you know, Ren and that even our people domestically that they are such a catalyst to the prophecies and things that rent obviously has the most impact because he is jurisdiction authority. You know, as a prosecutor, she's able to, you know, see these cases, and in the justice brought where it probably would not have been brought, not because our systems broke, but because it means it needs somebody who's knowledgeable, passionate and devoted to make this happen. And she is that person and she's not just impacting a small area, she's gonna, she's impacting our state with everybody she meets and sees and people start to understand these cases. And then, you know, I, you know, so people asked about what we do domestically, and they really don't understand. I, you know, there's so much we do domestically, not counting, you know, even probably an upcoming show about the first thing operation ever for the state of North Carolina happening in partnership with us. And it's an incredible agency in this state. So and, you know, you may want to finish out what you were saying.

Yeah. So it is hard to do these cases and to show these images to juries and to do these prosecutions. But at the end of the day, what these children have gone through that are presented in these images is harder. And it's what they have had to endure that we need to also be willing to take on the burden of and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.

And to do that, you do have to view these images, and you do have to know what happened in them. So we've been able to, we've been able to help out with the prosecution in in my part of the state, and we've been able to reach out and we've had a lot of requests. He's currently sitting on a center request to go help train prosecutors and judges in other parts of the world. And, you know, there is a lot to be said about these cases. The one thing I want to say is most prosecutors across the world across the country everywhere. It's not that they don't want these people to come to justice or that they're trying to do anything to help them get off that they're in any way corrupt. It's not that at all. So these cases are new in the grand scheme. If you think about how old the law is, I mean, what are the first books of the law in the Bible, you know, you think about how old the law is. And then you put the digital world into context of that it's relatively new.

It is. And it's not that these people and these prosecutors and these, you know, law enforcement officers that they're in any way trying to do anything that there is or, you know, there's this weird conspiracy theory that they're trying to let CCM professors and producers off and that's not the case. What it is, is that these are relatively new crimes and the investigation tactics and the prosecution tactics and all of that is evolving. And in general, you know, you're getting juries in and they might not even be familiar with digital at all.

You know, they might be able to log into Netflix and that's it. But, you know, we got to take that all in step and just work where you can and make strides where you can. And it is a slow process, but it is really worth it when you know, you know, we got one of the convictions earlier this year in the spring. The guy was sentenced to 50 to 100 years for CCM possession.

So we're getting really good. And that guy's gone for life, right? So we're getting really good sentences and people are getting put away. And this is a crime where people used to get probation for. People that had CCM images on their devices used to get probation just because the knowledge, it just wasn't there.

And that's really no one's fault. We're always developing, we're always learning, all of us are. So just to finish out the show, Robbie, we wanted updates too, as well as expansions internationally. We have three countries in the next quarter that we are bringing CCM training enhanced in partnership with International Center for Missing and Exploited Children. And that's in Africa, but we have a very large second training effort to establish an Internet Crimes Against Children department for the country of Nepal. And we're so excited about that training coming up. And then we have two countries in Africa also, in addition to the other three, that we are actually signing MOUs to finalize the assessment process, the establishment of a task force, and they're going to be busy. They're going to be, you know, on the ground immediately, arresting and rescuing enhanced with our mobile advisory members, Americans and other people. So we have a lot going on in the next quarter.

I'm very much excited about reporting on those efforts because we know that they're going to yield tremendous fruit. And so pray for us. Keep us in your thoughts this quarter. Reach out to us, connect to us. If somebody's just now hearing the show for the first time, I apologize. I am jet lagged.

I have been in the front line of Ukraine until literally 12 hours ago. So still listen to us and please follow us at And you can see there's plenty to pray about. Lots of opportunities for you to get connected and to see, you know, ask God how He would have you take part in this battle. So thank you so much, guys. It's so great to hear from you again. This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-26 18:03:20 / 2023-08-26 18:14:52 / 12

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