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Central America

Lantern Rescue / Lantern Rescue
The Truth Network Radio
December 9, 2023 12:00 pm

Central America

Lantern Rescue / Lantern Rescue

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December 9, 2023 12:00 pm

Robby speaks with John from Lantern Rescue as well as a special guest about the latest operations & updates from Central America.

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

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If you or someone you know has experienced exploitation call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) at 1-888-373-7888.

Kingdom Pursuits
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Stu Epperson

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The following program contains sensitive content. Listener discretion is advised. Welcome to Lantern Rescue, a ministry program dedicated to bringing light into the darkness of human trafficking. It's time to light the way to freedom. This is Lantern Rescue. We tell the stories, we talk about rescues, and we empower you to do something about it.

William Wilberforce once said, Let it not be said I was silent when they needed me. This is Lantern Rescue. Well, welcome to another episode of Lantern Rescue. I think it would be really glad you tuned in today because I know I'm going to learn a lot I don't know about is Central America is a subject today. And we got a couple of folks that are really active there. We have a new nonprofit that's involved with Lantern called The Value of One, which we're going to find out about that from Weston Parks. And we have John with us with Lantern Rescue, and they're going to give us an update to an extent on Central America, some of the struggles that they have with, you know, kind of immigration versus, you know, human trafficking. And some of the you know, they're they're constantly working on their tourism.

But by the same token, they can't do anything to step on those toes while they're trying to come up against trafficking. So those are kind of the things we're going to touch base on today. So, John, why don't you share with our listeners a little bit about what your job is there with Lantern and take us into these topics? Yeah, thank you so much for the opportunity today.

I just wanted to talk a little bit and bring Weston in from The Value of One. As you mentioned, we're working in partnership throughout Central America on trafficking issues. As you know, Lantern Rescue brings a unique package of being able to work all the way on the ground with law enforcement through the process of prosecution and all the way to prison. And we want to establish relationships with prison ministries abroad who can then preach the gospel to the traffickers that we are pursuing. So, you know, Central America is unique in the sense that their primary income is tourism. So, you know, a country who is like any other country that has problems with trafficking but is also trying to maintain and appear to be a good place for tourists to come and spend money has a little bit of a conflict of interest there. And so they're trying to balance, always trying to balance this pursuit of crime and ending trafficking while also putting on a good face. And so we are devoted to helping them quietly do that so that they can do what they need to as far as helping rescue victims and then put traffickers behind bars and then also hopefully get off the State Department's naughty list.

And then that will also help improve their tourism as well. And we have good relationships with embassies abroad as well, and that really helps in the process. So Westman has been instrumental throughout Central America, and he's been working hard for some years now actually trying to help through these processes, has an excellent background in law enforcement, and I'd love to hear his thoughts. First, let's introduce a little bit of his organization and hear his thoughts on the way forward.

So thank you for having me on today, John, and I appreciate the letting me come on and represent the value of one. We are organization based in Southern United States, and we have we've been working now for about five years when our organization got started. We spent a lot of time down in Central America working with different organizations and trying to help rescue victims of human trafficking.

Yeah. So kind of how do you how do you do that, Weston? So we look to our organization looks to partner with organizations in Central America that have already established well in their countries. It's always best working with locals down there because they your victims will identify better with a local a local partner sometimes than they will somebody from another country. So we look to work with local partners. We vet those partners, make sure they're on the same lines and that we are. And then also it gives us a place to put the victims once they are rescued. One of the main problems that you see sometimes is people victims come out of human trafficking and the return rate back to human trafficking is really high unless you can intervene and get them into an organization or ministry that that looks to help them in a long term effect.

So our organization is not designed for long term. We work with the actual rescue part and prevention. And then for our rehabilitation side, we always look to partner with another organization. And typically it's a local partner in that country.

Yeah, we love that. And then that's obviously been Lantern's structure as well through the years is to somehow try to work ourselves out of a job if we possibly could. But also, John, you had mentioned and so had Weston that it's critical to understand the difference between illegal immigration and trafficking.

Yeah. So so real briefly, you know, we have that clear distinction here in the United States, but overseas, it's not quite as clear. So they oftentimes, especially in Central America, it is viewed and prosecuted under the same codes for trafficking and illegal immigration.

So, you know, our primary focus is lantern. And I think I can speak for Western here as well as trafficking victims. And, you know, our our differentiation there is key. And, you know, we would basically say the difference would be voluntary versus, you know, either coercion or or legitimate, just straight slavery. And, you know, if somebody is choosing to cross the border illegally, that is different. And maybe they enlist the help of a coyote or somebody to, you know, do the logistical piece of that coyote.

Pardon me. Yeah. So so that is somebody who who is paid to help shepherd somebody across a border illegally. So, you know, they know the ins and outs, they know the routes, you know, they have networks essentially set up that they can do that.

So a nickname, if you will, I guess. So, you know, we view that differently than than trafficking, which, you know, is coercion, especially in the case of children. Right.

There are no children who can who can choose to be in this situation. So that can be a little bit complex when we are trying to support a counter trafficking effort versus, you know, the country who's trying to also shut down illegal immigration. So it is a little bit of complexity to navigate that sometimes the laws aren't as friendly for us in some countries as others. But we've had good success because we do have prosecutors on staff and they can really help kind of draw distinctions for prosecutors and law enforcement in these countries. Yeah. That's, you know, one of the huge advantages of having ran. Right.

I mean, all that law is a critical aspect of, you know, not just in, you know, getting the victims taken care of, but putting a stop to the people that are victimizing them. Right. That's incredible, really. I mean, run it on such a great job, both nationally and internationally, really. It's it's been it's been a joy to work with them because, you know, even before she had officially been stamped a lawyer, she had already been prosecuting cases successfully.

I mean, putting men behind bars for literally their entire lives for some really horrible stuff and unjustifiably. So it's it's been great. That's an excellent addition. And what I think really brings makes you lantern really unique.

Right. And and again, I just it kind of blows my mind because, you know, we've we've talked a lot about, you know, different areas of the world. But this is really my first venture into Central America. And so, you know, I'm curious how you would compare that personally up against the other areas. You know, we talk a lot about obviously, you know, Haiti and areas around there and Africa and even Pakistan and those kind of places. And how would you, for the listeners, give them an idea of what what's different when you go down to Central America? Yeah, I'll let Weston tee that up and then I'll follow him with.

Yeah, go ahead, Weston. So, of course, our organization, we've been to Africa, we've been in different countries there. And and it is quite a different look. Trafficking at its core, basically the same anywhere you go in any country. Right.

Force, fraud or coercion is what defines mostly and most traffic situations. But the way that area is a little different. One of the big things in Central America that you see a lot of is because of the high tourism rate is something that we refer to as sex tourism, where people travel from other countries into that country for the purpose of exploiting minors. And one of the things about Central America is one of the high jobs there is European and American men that traveled down to Central America for the exploitation of children, because it's so much easier there to do exactly that. You know, one thing about the United States is we really hound on different things with when it comes to children. But there it's much easier to get your hands on children that are being exploited.

And, you know, we've seen that live and we've seen that on the ground while we're there working and doing in different capacities. We've seen these things happening and we've experienced American European men in the areas where high traffic rates are happening. So that's one of the main differences there. Another difference is, you know, we look at countries. Is that country a supply country or is it a destination country? And what I mean by that is there's that country, the victims of that country, do they are they in traffic out of that country into another country, which would make that country supply country, or are they a country where they're coming to to be trafficked, which we would call that a destination country. So that's the different things you look at, especially in Central America and those areas. That's one thing where it makes it a little easier because all these countries are connected without actually having to cross water. You can just make your way through and it causes a high rate of trafficking especially in children.

Wow. And so, John, I guess that's why the connection to illegal immigration versus trafficking, right? Because if that's what's happening and it sounds like there's other countries that are the supply countries sending people into Central America because they're the essentially end user, I guess that's really both illegal immigration and trafficking, right?

Yeah. I have been in several Central American countries that and met almost, I mean, it's like an endless supply of Venezuelan women. So Venezuela obviously has a lot of problems and they are an absolute gross exporter of prostitution for sure, but also trafficking as well.

And then you're exactly right. I mean, it's, you know, you have a broken country like Venezuela. And so, you know, you've got people that are looking just to make ends meet, put some food on their table. And so, you know, they're leaving illegally, crossing a border. They know there's going to be jobs coming from the United States or from Europe. And they know it's pretty much guaranteed income. You know, the trafficking piece then because traffickers know that, then they will, you know, force or coerce people to do the same thing. So, yeah, it really is. It's interlinked for them, though. You know, we do want to make a distinction between people who request to be, you know, cross the border versus people who are forced into that or coerced into it.

Absolutely. Well, we got to go to a break when we come back. You know, you're going to find out a lot more about what's going on in Central America, but also, you know, how we can be praying for these teams and, you know, what kind of they're up against. And so I know I'm excited to know, you know, what God's doing down there.

And we'll be right back with so much more. Lantern Rescue is a USA-based organization that conducts international rescue operations for people suffering from human trafficking. Lantern 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 one hundred and fifty billion dollars in annual activity. Lantern Rescue has developed rapidly to combat trafficking. Lantern 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. Well, welcome back to this episode of Lantern Rescue. We're going down into Central America, learning about the situations there, you know, kind of terrifying at some levels. And I think as you listen in this segment, you're going to find there's even more terrifying things that are ahead of our way. And because of that, you know, God has given us the opportunity to hear about it so we can be praying about that.

And so, John, can you kind of introduce us to the idea of, you know, what's a caravan? Yeah. So so over the last couple of years, you know, we've seen growing immigration, illegal immigration moving north through all these Central American countries. And their ultimate destination is a better place. Right. Which is most likely going to be the United States or what they're that's what they're hoping for. And the problem with these caravans and this mass illegal immigration is that they're entirely lawless.

Right. There's they're sort of existing outside of the legal infrastructure of each of these countries that they end up in. And so as a result, all lawlessness is happening there. And and so we have seen and are pursuing to put a stop to some really horrible trafficking of children. They're being used in the caravan and then also being sent out of the caravan into the these local societies. And it's really a massive pollutant to to these countries that these caravans are moving through who are now experiencing increased sex trafficking, increased child sex abuse, and these horrible things are happening because of the results of these caravans. So, Weston, that you're really familiar with these, I guess, in what you're doing.

Yes. So we've been working with our partners in Central America since published for about a year now with these caravans that are moving through. And like John stated, they really cause a lot of problems. And, you know, we understand that the people in these caravans are people looking to for a better life and trying to and just trying to move north. But the problem is that there's so much lawlessness in these caravans and there's so much going on that it really opens the door for the kids and the children that are in these caravans to be abused. The cartels organize these these caravans and they push them through.

It's a money operation for a lot of times for them. However, we've got tons of reports on when these caravans stop for a time frame and they're in a camp somewhere before they figure out where they can go next. We've got reports of kids being taken out of the caravan and moving on. There's unaccompanied minors, hundreds of unaccompanied minors typically in these caravans where either they were scooped up and taken from their parents or the parents sent them hoping for them to have a better life, whatever the case may be there. But they're being pushed through and then they're being trafficked within the caravan and being trafficked outside of the caravan. And it's a really it's a really big problem. And we've been working hard to try to find some solutions to this and how we can get in there and and get the children that are being trafficked to a safer place.

Yeah, it sounds horrifying, you know, unthinkable, like some of the movies we've seen here in America recently, even this year, you know, kind of showed what can happen with that kind of thing. Well, and one thing about it, you know, the one thing that differs with the caravans versus what we normally would work in, you know, typically you go to a country in Central America and you can go somewhere. And, you know, in this one area, this one place, bar or whatever it is, nightclub, they may be trafficking four or five, 10 children out of that place. But this caravan, you're talking hundreds of children in one caravan, in one spot that are being trafficked, which logistically is is really hard to figure out. Right. Because you've got so many children in one spot that needed that need rescuing. So it's a really big problem and it needs a lot of a lot of prayer and a lot of resources. Yeah, because I would imagine that if there's hundreds of children, that means that they're they're formidable for you just don't walk in there with two policemen and start rescuing people. Right.

No, it's possible. So, yeah, absolutely. That's right. And I think that's why that sort of highlights the value and importance of Lantern and the value one in the partnership here, because these countries resources are already strained. Right. So if you look through State Department's TIP reports, you're going to find every single country has had a challenge tackling trafficking.

And the reason is particularly derived. They've always had resourcing issues. But now post covid, where those resources were even further constrained, trafficking has increased and prosecutions have decreased.

And a lot of that is just straight resources. So they're not making as many arrests. They don't have as many officers to do that.

The investigations have slowed down. All those things are amplified. And now you move a caravan full of hundreds of children who are being trafficked. How do you manage that with already restrained, constrained resources? So you are hopefully in partnership with Lantern Rescue and the value one who bring a lot of these resources. Right. We have investigators. We have prosecutors who can help with the prosecutions. We have law enforcement who can help with all the all the work that happens on the law enforcement front. And we have bodies.

Right. We can we can assist in these ways. And so we really are trying to push hard and into Central America because of that thing. You know, listen, you don't have the resources. We are your resources. So you use us.

Yeah, that is it. Because, again, I know so many of the folks with Lantern Rescue is a numerous special forces folks that obviously have lots of background in making those kind of extractions and those kind of things in order to to really help. And what seems like I'm sure to the country, you know, here sits if there's hundreds of children being trafficked, I'm assuming there's probably, you know, hundreds of of bad guys, essentially, that that they're faced with. So that's that is really a wow. I was not aware of that. And certainly an opportunity for all of us to be praying, you know, along those lines. And the other issue that you guys wanted to make sure you got out and talked about was the idea, see, Sam, right, that that that there's other things that happen with these children besides just being trafficked. Right. Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, child sex abuse material or formerly child pornography is exploding throughout the world period.

And we are so far behind on that, really everywhere, but definitely overseas. And, you know, there are tools that are catching up and have in large part caught up to see Sam victim identification and our ability to a lot of forensic tools that we can use and employ to to help prosecute or shut down. See, Sam, and find new victims. Right. And then find who is perpetrating these crimes as well. And these tools are great.

The problem is in the United States. Right. It's very clear these tools work. We know what the forensic backing is.

They've been certified. Right. When we go overseas, you know, you've got maybe an older justice who's not familiar with this tool. And, you know, the prosecutor is having a really hard time saying, hey, we use this tool to find this victim. You know, and maybe just like, hey, I don't understand this tool. I don't know that that is an effective use.

You're not violating somebody's privacy or, you know, whatever other laws they have to make sure that law enforcement and prosecution are doing the right things. So so we're also amplifying our effects in these countries. And the caravan would be, you know, a great place to use this thing because child sex abuse materials absolutely emanating from these caravans. So we have now the ability to go to these countries with these tools, employ them and and use them to effectively decrease the amount of trafficking and child sex abuse material. And we're doing that in partnership with ICMEC, which is an excellent organization, very experienced. They are just phenomenal people, excellent heart driven for really the same cause.

And and so they've got good relationships in a lot of these countries as well. And so we're partnering there on the on the CSAM front. And and that is that is a piece that we would absolutely be grateful for prayer. We need more resources.

I mean, everything you can imagine how ubiquitous this might be, given the state of the Internet, cell phones, all these things. Yeah, it's unbelievable. But it's also, you know, it's it's so encouraging to me that God continues to bring these wonderful resources like ICMEC. You just mentioned and certainly the value of one, you know, that with Weston's organization, you know, I'm sure you agree, Weston. That's kind of cool how, you know, yeah, they they they may be putting together a caravan, but God's got something for that, too, doesn't he?

He does. And John and I were talking earlier about how it's amazing watching God work and letting him do his will in your life. And we are sure glad that he's brought Lantern and all these other organizations into our organization and we're able to collaborate and work together for his glory and to get kids rescued and out of situations that are definitely so good.

Yeah. And we want to let our listeners know, too, that the value of one has its own website, the value of one dot org. And so while you're going to visit Lantern and praying for us and donating that kind of thing, you can find out more about the value of one at the value of one dot org. And tell me a little bit more, John, about ICMEC. That's one I'm not familiar with.

What does ICMEC stand for? Yeah, it's going to take me a minute to get through that. Sorry about that. That's all right.

So give me a moment here. So, you know, ICMEC, the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Wow. And they're also in partner partnership with NCMEC, which is the national version of that. Right.

So ICMEC being the international version of that. They are driven towards, you know, the helping children grow up in a safe place from exploitation, sex abuse, you know, things, kidnappings, all the things that are that children are susceptible to. They're vulnerable.

And so they want to disrupt that. And they they use technology is really kind of their focus. They have access to all the really effective technological tools to help governments, law enforcement, NGOs, you know, all different. And they help with the prevention piece.

And so they bring a lot of those tools overseas. They've got excellent relationships. They're just really well regarded, I think, the world over. And so we're we're just so grateful to be in partnership with them. And, you know, we see these things happen and they're so providential, right? God is so good to us. And Satan is absolutely trying to fight every inch we had a scratch for because Satan does not want us to rescue children.

And organizations like ICMEC are really a wonderful blessing for us. Yeah. And and so, you know, God is obviously given people this vision with the value of one and with Lantern and with ICMEC, but also you listening.

Right. But like he's raising you up to to be a prayer support and all that for us and for what he's doing around the world for these. You know, even when I think of the value of that one child is in a place where they have no idea, you know, where the next steps come in. You know, what horrible person might be coming at him next?

God knows. And and he's raising us all up to do what we can do. So thank you guys so much for for what you're doing here in Central America and for this update.

I've learned a lot. Yeah, absolutely. And I did want to give Weston the last word here, if that's all right. He does have an event coming up and I would love if we could generate some support for it.

Weston, do you want to talk about that a little bit? Yeah, quickly, I'll just say thank you again for having us on today. And we do have several things coming up with our organization in the near future. We have a big event in December, the 15th and 16th. If you're in the area of Yachenville, North Carolina, the Long Hickory Arena, it's going to be a rodeo event and it's going to be a fundraiser for our organization.

All the profits and proceeds to go to that. And we've got some trips coming up planned in different parts of the world. Coming up in 2024. So just keep us in prayer. And thank you again. Thank you all. You listeners that are listening out for the prayers. Yes. Thank you, Weston. God bless. This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-09 14:33:03 / 2023-12-09 14:43:41 / 11

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