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Liberator Series part 4

Lantern Rescue / Lantern Rescue
The Truth Network Radio
December 16, 2023 12:00 pm

Liberator Series part 4

Lantern Rescue / Lantern Rescue

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December 16, 2023 12:00 pm

Ray speaks on Lantern's groundbreaking work domestically starting in 2024! How we are working to proactively protect our children stateside.

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

Join us as a Liberator at https://lanternrescue.org/liberator/ 

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

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This is Stu Epperson from the Truth Talk Podcast, connecting current events, pop culture, and theology, and we're so grateful for you that you've chosen the Truth Podcast Network. It's about to start in just a few seconds.

Enjoy it, and please share it around with all your friends. Thanks for listening, and thanks for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. 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. Thank you so much for joining us today. We're so excited to have this discussion. You know, many of you have joined in our Liberator Series Podcast a couple of times and heard from some of our different operators, and today I happen to have Ray with us, and he works domestically for the Invictus Project, Lantern Rescue here in North Carolina. Some of you have heard Ray speak on some of our other podcasts before, so I'm not going to give him too big of an intro because most of you know a lot about him already, those of you that have listened along for a while, but we really have an awesome project in the works, and man, God has been moving in really incredible ways. You know, for so long we focused our work internationally, and it's about time that we bring some of that work home, and so we're doing that, and Ray, I'm excited to share what we're doing with our audience and let them realize and feel the need here in the homeland, right, and how we're really collaborating with law enforcement to meet that need and rescue our children right here.

Yeah, yeah, and thank you for having me. So, yeah, it's an awesome opportunity that we have that really God paved the way for. You know, I guess it was maybe this time last year, the last time we spoke about kind of the project and what the vision was, was really to see how do we move the needle domestically. And, you know, the first three years of this for sure was just really in the trenches with our law enforcement partners understanding the fight here domestically. So often we think of the trafficking and exploitation of our children, especially being a huge issue internationally, in which it is.

However, domestically, it looks a little different, but that doesn't make it any less prevalent. So just really seeing what the fight looks like and how that fight has really manifested itself as it pertains to our children and where our children are vulnerable, and really where we see that domestically is really on the internet. Absolutely. Yeah, definitely on the internet, and what makes our children so vulnerable is because we as parents have so much trust in the safety of our home. You know, we think, well, as long as our kids are in their bedroom, you know, they're on their phones or on their computers, but at least their home. Well, that's just not the case anymore. There are definitely people out there that are preying upon our children in their most vulnerable state, which is at a place that both the child and us as parents feel that they're safe.

Absolutely. That's a scary thought. You know, we talk about it a lot that is myth busting, right? It's not the white van that rolls up with free candy written on the side of it. It's not stranger danger like that anymore. Stranger danger is a whole other level. And, you know, I don't know that the reality has fully set in for the parents that are out there. I don't think they, it's not that they don't desire to know what's going on on their kids' devices. They just don't know where to begin, right? And I think that is something that, you know, there needs to be that prompting and awareness of what is going on there.

Because your work is the flip side of that. What happens when we're not involved with our kids' lives and what they're doing on their phones or electronic devices or, you know, who they're around. I mean, there's so many pieces that we can intervene as parents on. We just don't know where to start, you know. And so I think we can chat a little bit about that and your thoughts around that. What that intervention could look like before it has to hit a case on your desk, you know. So, and then we'll move into what kind of the Invictus Project is.

Yeah, wow, what a challenge though, right? It's, you know, I find it, I find this fight eerily similar to, you know, the awareness and education part of it, eerily similar to the gospel. And I say it like this, that the solution is the same, right? The gospel is the gospel.

It is what it is. It is Jesus Christ death, burial, resurrection, right, and our trust in that. That's the gospel. And we can proclaim that and we can tell it to people.

But if people do not see the need for that salvation, they just kind of let it go in one ear and out the other. And I think that there are tons of organizations out there, great organizations, that are doing education and awareness for our parents and our children. And I know Landon plays a big role in that. And our law enforcement partners and our social services partners, all of those people are playing these, and our educational component, you know, with our school system. They are all trying to educate children and parents of the dangers and pitfalls that lay before them as it pertains to their interaction on social media. But it isn't until they understand that it's their child that's in danger.

I don't know if it's just willfully, we don't want to believe that or what it is, but that becomes the difficult part in this. And, you know, I think about the operation that was just done here in this area in August, where we had an undercover chat operation, right, with our law enforcement partners here out of Randolph County that really spearheaded this operation. And in that, and I think that that was really what gave the results of that, is what really opened the eyes of a lot of people. In a matter of three days, we had 19 pedophiles travel to central part of North Carolina with the expectation of having sex with a minor. And these people, you can't identify them by looking at them. There is no more stranger danger. There are pastors in our churches, there are teachers in our schools, there are attorneys and politicians, and there are a lot of these folks are in positions of trust and in authority, and people that we would normally trust our children with. Yeah, it's frightening. Yeah, I'll be honest that I think that being in the county where that occurred, those people were traveling to, that was a shake up of this county. Oh, 100% It was a realization that, you know, this isn't a foreign fight. This is in our backyard, literally, you know, and I know even the purposes for those people traveling right and I'm sure there were different scenarios, let's say that they were traveling for, when it came to the, who the minor was, and some of those are sickening in general that they would venture out for those, those to meet those needs, right, but to know that some of them were right here, like local like live in Randolph County, on a daily basis are in front of children and are involved in different, you know, things that are happening in the community.

And I mean, personally, I know that there are people that I know, people that knew those people well. And that was, again, it's like you said, it opened our eyes to realize, you know, we want to say, Oh, never my child Oh, never my whatever it could never happen to me, it will never happen here, but it is happening here. And an alarming rate and alarming numbers. It absolutely is. And, and just I guess that's kind of a really good segue to, if you will, into what the Invictus Project is.

Yes, please. So when we started into this effort trying to really identify where is, where is law enforcement, the most vulnerable and need the most help, right, because that's what we do. We're not the heroes of this story. We love to empower those that have the ability to do this work and ensure that they have the resources and the training and the personnel that they need to affect this fight, right. So that's what we're super passionate about. But being able to understand what's, what's their needs? Where, where are they?

Where are they lacking in this fight? And, you know, it was a glaring, glaring gap in the security of our communities was the internet crimes against children. When I started understanding this fight and understanding, and so just to kind of let our listeners know exactly what that is, basically internet crimes against children, the best way to explain it, it's, it's nothing more than a video or picture, a video or picture documentation of the sexual assault, abuse and rape of a child.

ICAC is the acronym that's used and what it deals with is child sex abuse material that's being traded over the internet. And an alarming number. Oh, well, that's where I'm going.

That's where I was going next. Alarming, unbelievable. So, and it's across the nation. And all of this, all of these numbers are pretty much managed with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They're kind of the clearinghouse that keeps up with all of these numbers.

All of this information is reported to them, and then it's reported through them to the appropriate state that has jurisdiction on where these incidents are happening. And so just with a little bit of data and to show you how this fight is continuingly to grow this problem, if you will, is continuing, is continuing to grow just at an alarming rate. In 2019, the state of North Carolina had just under 5,000 ICAC tips. Now, granted, that's a lot.

That's disturbing in and of itself. And in 2020, we had just over 9,000. So almost a 50% increase in that year.

And so in 2021... Prior to COVID, right? This is our COVID time. Well, yeah, that's exactly right.

It was in the COVID time. Our tips in the state of North Carolina went to 12,000 and a handful. And last year, last year in North Carolina, we set a record at over 18,000 ICAC tips in the state of North Carolina. Now granted, the number of agents that are authorized to investigate these cases has not changed much throughout these years. So the number of cases are growing exponentially, but the number of investigators that law enforcement has available to investigate these crimes is not hardly moving at all. And so this year in 2023, we're on pace to eclipse over 27,000 of those ICAC tips just in the state of North Carolina. That's almost a 10,000 increase. Oh, it is. And it's just a huge need for law enforcement.

And so that's where the Invictus Project steps in. So Ray, how many ICAC people are in North Carolina? Like 250? Well, so just personnel is a little bit different than affiliates. Okay. So just to kind of now we're getting down in a little bit of the weeds.

Yeah. So there's about 250 affiliates in the state of North Carolina. Don't hold me to these numbers, obviously, but it's not much more than that. And basically, the responsibility of investigating ICAC for the most part falls at the feet of the State Bureau of Investigations. They only have a handful of people to do this, and they need so much help. And so how they help mitigate that caseload is that they establish a task force, which is their ICAC task force, and then they utilize affiliates.

And affiliates are authorized to investigate these cases within their jurisdiction. So I think in the state of North Carolina, we have approximately 250 of those affiliates. So the reason I even bring that up, because I did the math on that number, if you're talking 27,000 cases, 365 days in a year, knowing that these people are not working 365 days every day a year, right? All 250 of them.

Let's just say they were, right? They're working 365 days, 250 people. That would leave three days to accomplish a case, to investigate a case from beginning to end. That's ridiculous to me. How in the world could, I mean, that's crazy, assuming they have nothing else to do except investigate these cases.

Three days per case? I mean, anybody in law enforcement knows that. That's how.

How in the world? Well, anybody in law enforcement knows that, but not everybody in law enforcement can investigate an ICAC case. So those people that are investigating these ICAC cases, now, Whitney, you told me when we sat down you weren't going to make me angry.

Now I'm getting angry. Well, it's a good time to break for a second. Because we are going to have to head into just a quick break, but we'll come back and learn a little bit more about that and exactly what the Invictus Project is doing to turn the tide. 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 $150 billion 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 lanternrescue.org to see how you can support them financially. All right, and we're back. If you're joining us midway through this, we're sitting down with Ray who is with Lantern Rescue and in charge and overseeing the Invictus Project collaboration with law enforcement, and he's a little fired up so I've given him a minute to breathe. And he's going to talk a little bit more through what that looks like, what our domestic efforts look like at Lantern Rescue and really why we see this fight here on the homeland and what we're doing about it.

And also, before it ends, I promise we're going to end on a positive and encouraging note, right, the hope that's to come with this project and how you can be involved in it. So Ray, take it away from there. Yeah, so I guess just before the break we were talking about the, so I'm going to get myself riled back up again. So we were talking about the, just the overwhelming caseload that these investigators are dealing with and normally within an ICAC case, not all of these ICAC cases is there, you know, a big issue, right? And those will sometimes be, you know, there's some young girl exchanging a picture of herself, right? These are some of those tips that can come in. Well, and those are important, right?

They are. Because of the overwhelming case capacity per investigator, there has to be a level of triage done, right? So basically, and the State Bureau of Investigations does a phenomenal job with helping us with that, right? Saying, hey guys, we're going to prioritize these tips as best we can. You're going to need to look at all of them because ultimately that's your role in this. But hey, if we see something that we figure, that we think needs your immediate attention, we're going to prioritize it accordingly, right?

Somebody's in danger. Yes, exactly. Exactly.

And so, just like you alluded to a moment ago, that's exactly right. A lot of these tips are young children that are producing these and sending them. Which as a parent, if you're listening to that, I mean, I'm going to give me two seconds on this because sitting and talking to some of these different youth groups and I've been able to have conversations with our youth and the overwhelming amount of just awareness that that is happening on a consistent basis. I mean, I asked, I blatantly asked a youth group of about 60 kids, said, do me a favor, raise your hand if you are not surprised to receive an airdrop nude of someone you go to school with.

Every one of them raised their hand. It's no surprise, right? This happens all the time. They're receiving these messages. And guys, this is, I mean, parents, as you're listening to this, I know no one wants to think, oh, that's my daughter, that's my son doing that.

Like, no one wants to believe that. But the numbers are suggesting that it very well could be. And that only creates more later down the road, right? That creates a pressure that these kids are having to live up to, right? And so those pictures become a place of, they detach from being an issue.

It's not a big deal. Everybody's doing it, right? And so then the wrong people get a hold of those pictures.

Sure. Well, and as a result of this, what it becomes the, it becomes the over sexualization of a generation that becomes desensitized to this. To them, it's just normal. They don't see what the big deal is. I'm talking middle school, even elementary school.

I mean, it's happening. That's exactly right. And a very, very high percentage of the images that we find, if you will, that are reported, a high percentage of them, the victim was the instigator in a sense of sending that image out. A lot of the times what we're seeing is they thinking that it's somebody within their peer group.

I've dealt with a case that is very dear to my heart with that. A young girl was sending images to what she thought was one of her peers. She was about 11, 12, 13 years old when she was doing this for several years, come to find out it was a predator that was what we call catfishing her, was setting up fake profiles to making her think that he was of her age. And she was not. So she was thinking it was all okay. And that's the problem with this. So many of our victims don't see themselves as victims, right? Or it's just like we said, they've been desensitized to it. It's kind of a normal behavior.

Everybody's doing it in school. But the second, third order effects of that were is that the predator in this case was exploiting this girl sexually, but was hands on offending another girl that he had access to. So we have a parent over here that was with this 12-year-old girl. She wasn't even allowed to have a phone. She had never even had a cell phone.

Didn't even have a social media account, not one. Because her parents were doing the best, trying to do the best practices to ensure that her child is not exposed to this until they're old enough to be able to understand it. But our predator had access to her physically.

And so she was the same age as this girl that he was exploiting online. And so none of us are immune from this. If you are living in the United States and you have access to Wi-Fi and you have children, they're at risk. And so what the Invictus Project is doing is not only have we brought a task force together of some surrounding sheriffs, the State Bureau of Investigations, ICAC, and the Department of Homeland Security all formed this task force under the Invictus Project. And our whole objective is this, is that we are going to focus on the trafficking and exploitation of children.

And so we're working through ICAC tips to keep that caseload down and understanding that working through ICAC tips is law enforcement in a reactive posture. And what I mean when I say that, a crime's been committed, the child's been offended, the image has been uploaded, it's reported to law enforcement, law enforcement gets the report, they investigate it, and then they take appropriate action, whether that be arrest or educate the child. We're not out there arresting children because they're the victims in this, right?

Yeah, exactly. This is an educational opportunity for the children and the parents, right? And so that's why every single one of these have to be addressed. But also for the first time, we're able to, as a result of the overwhelming success of Operation Child Predator that was done in August here in Randolph County, we are shifting law enforcement from a reactive posture to a proactive posture.

Where we are purposely hunting those that are preying upon our children. And bringing all of these resources together where the whole nucleus of the task force is its state of the art forensic lab. We are ensuring that law enforcement has all the tools that they need. That's our pledge to this, right? That's where we're in this fight. Making sure that equipment and tools and training is not the reason that these cases are not being investigated.

Absolutely. That right there is the hope, those that are listening, is that we're not just in a reactive posture anymore. We are a proactive resource for hunting down these predators. And I think that is so incredibly necessary because, you know, I've said it kind of even in our Christian walks, so often we are reactive instead of proactive. And that is, we can't afford to be reactive with our children.

We cannot. I mean, there is damage that will then be done that can never be undone. Now Christ can come in and heal so many pieces of that for that child, but there is damage done right at that point. How incredible is it that the Lord has given this vision to be able to be proactive in ensuring that our children don't have to go through that. I mean, that's a powerful piece of this, and that is the hope in this project that is encouraging to me and to know that there are 27,000 tips and cases out there that are going to come through this year that people that care's eyes are on. You know, and that's been the case, right? But we're building that collaboration so that those cases can be addressed. They don't have to be pushed on a back burner just trying to work through everything, right? I'm excited to see this thing come to fruition. And I know you are because this has been a labor of love and on your heart for a while. Well, 100 percent.

And you know, it's I feel like that when I when God first laid this on my heart some years ago, I felt like that I had like three pillars or three priorities of work, if you will. Number one being the safety of these children, being in a proactive posture allows us to ensure that we are we're getting the bad guys off the street. We're affecting that the demand reduction part of this component of this to ensure that our children are safe. But not only that, from a reactive posture, we're ensuring that that once these cases have been reported to us, that we're able to remove these children from that to ensure their safety. Right. And the second component of that is healing, is being able to working with our child advocacy centers and the resources that we have available throughout the local government. But not only that, but the spiritual component of that.

Right. To ensure that we are we are ministers of God for truth. Amen. And and we embrace that unapologetically.

And my third pillar is justice. We want to seek justice for these victims. And we do that through effective prosecution.

We do that through our partners at the state level that are ensuring that we are trained up and that we're following the best practices and procedures to ensure that once we get these guys in front of a judge, they're getting put away. Absolutely. Well, Ray, thank you for this, for just taking time to chat with us. And I know this Liberator podcast looked a little bit different, but I hope you recognize that liberation, that freedom is coming. Right.

For the people that have already been in that situation and for the ones that would have been. I think that's an incredible piece to this. And, you know, I want to encourage our listeners. This is so you've heard what this project is, you know, and it's it's incredible, but it requires finances to mobilize it.

And that's just the truth of the matter. You're going to see some things on our Web site coming out. And we've got an end of year campaign push that we really hope that you will be involved in.

We are set with a big goal of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars by year end. And this is being recorded what? December 14th. Right.

15 days. All right, Lord. Anytime you want to show up here, you know, we like to give him space to perform miracles. That's just what it is. But we do need people to champion alongside of us for this. You know, it's it's not just to protect their children. It's protect our children.

Right. We've you guys have been incredible in supporting us, protect children around the world. But let's gather around and protect the children in our community as well.

And that's the call to this. So if you'd like to learn more about this, you can visit lantern rescue dot org or you can go to our any of our social media platforms. So we'll be plenty of information.

There's actually going to be a little bit of a video coming out to give a little more detail around the Invictus Project and see some incredible people that are involved in this that are truly heroes in this mission. So if you're not following us on social media, please take the time to do that. We're also going to be sending a lot of newsletter information out around this topic as well.

So if you haven't signed up for our newsletter, you can do that at the Web site also. But really, we need you guys to stand alongside us in this prayerfully and financially. And, you know, that's not always a fun call we'd like to make. But really, we're offering you an opportunity to step in into this mission field and be a part of this fight. We can't do it without without our donors stepping alongside us. That's what we've we've been able to accomplish so much because of the Lord prompting the right hearts at the right time to be a part of this fight. So thank you for being here. And listeners, thank you so much for joining us on this podcast. Thank you for having me. This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-16 14:34:08 / 2023-12-16 14:45:01 / 11

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