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May 11, 2024 12:00 pm

Operation Toledo

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May 11, 2024 12:00 pm

Witch doctor influence remains a prevalent influence for human trafficking and child sexual abuse inside of Africa. In this episode, Ren and Ryan discuss cases involving witch doctors and abduction. Ryan shares updates in this region and how you can support our mission to combat human trafficking.

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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, we have quite an update for you today on Lantern Rescue. We're going to go into Africa with Ryan, and Ren set this up for us. Yeah, so a lot's going on in Africa. We have a huge problem right now, and it's always expanding, it feels like. So today we're going to talk about two cases that are pretty reflective of overall trends in a region of Africa, and it's some pretty serious graphic stuff. Just a little bit of a listener warning there. You know, these cases are really sad. They're really horrific. But through the truth of what's happening, and these victims deserve not only justice, but they also deserve the opportunity to have their stories told and to be able to move the needle with counter-human trafficking work so that we're able to hopefully someday prevent this happening to other victims. Oh wow.

And it is kind of hard to hear. But Ryan, you're right there. And so why don't you take us into this first case? Yeah, so thanks Robbie, and thanks Ren. Yeah, I mean, as Ren said, this is sort of, this is one case and we might talk about a second one, but this is a bigger problem that we see a number of these cases every week and every month.

So it's not a standalone, it's not by itself, not a one-off. This month, we had an operation where a young five-year-old girl who was taken while her mum was at work from a local factory, she was taken by a member of the church, the local church, while her mum was busy and then she was abused and basically dumped later that night, left her dead. The team working with, when the mother reported it, they ended up finding the girl, getting her to a hospital and getting her examined and looked at. Throughout the investigation, it was worked out that not only was the individual the main perpetrator, but there was two other men from the same church that were working in cahoots with him, and that they'd all basically been told by their witch doctor that this is what they needed to do, it was their sort of right to do this. One of the interesting things on this case is that the main perpetrator videoed the abuse and actually sent it to a witch doctor in Morocco.

It's a Moroccan number, and that's why it looks like there's some links there that we're still sort of looking into. Yeah, so it's pretty heavy, you know, it was great that the little girl was found and was able to get some help, but yeah, it's a really interesting thing that some of these people are sort of hiding in the church, and then when people aren't looking, they're sort of walking in the dark aisle. Yeah, and so, you know, part of what's going on there, right, is that they're literally harvesting organs and stuff, am I right? Yeah, yeah, that does happen, and we are actually investigating a number of cases at the moment on sort of organised organ trafficking. This one itself though, this one seems more about, you know, a witch doctor having told these three men that, you know, if they were able, they wanted, you know, to go and molest the girl and to film it and, you know, pass it on. So that's, yeah, that sort of seems to be the motive on this one.

Wow, that seems absolutely unbelievable. And so is this sort of like becoming more prevalent in this region? Yeah, it's an interesting question. I think, I don't think it's becoming more prevalent. What I believe is that we are starting to look for more, and we're aware of it more, and law enforcement are aware of it more, and just the fact that these countries are putting more effort with partners like Lambton and KCM, local partners and things like that, that more people are looking at this set and more people are shining a light on it. So therefore the cases seem to be going up, but I don't think that it wasn't happening. It's just now that they're shining a light on it, it's bringing it to the forefront.

Wow. And so why do you think the witch doctors have such an influence in this area? Yeah, I mean, they have. There's obviously a lot of poverty in Africa, and what we find is that one of the secret sort of roots to this problem is that people want to sacrifice, and it starts off with animals and things, and there's a whole bunch of witch doctors who work only with animals, and actually some of them do pass us information when another witch doctor is sort of moved across into a human sacrifice. So the people in that are very poor, and they do believe in this side of it where if they can sacrifice something then they'll get some prosperity, whether that be elected as a local official or they're starting a business, or they want their crops to yield well that year. They definitely sort of believe in that because they're very uneducated, some of them. Some of them are quite prominent people and they're very well educated that are involved in this as well, but it definitely permeates through trying to get some financial benefit through good luck and prosperity.

And how are we working to combat that? Yeah, so as Ren mentioned, the team does feel like it's growing and growing regularly, which is a fantastic thing. We've grown exponentially in the last 12 months here in Africa, and we continue to grow, continue to partner with other local organizations, continue to bring really good people in to building teams that can combat this every day, and are partnering with law enforcement on the ground, helping them, mentoring them, providing them resources that they would otherwise would prevent them from going on an operation or from conducting an investigation. And that really is what we can provide for this side. We can help them continue on the investigation, giving them some advice, giving them some resources, and really partnering with them to make sure that these cases don't go unsolved or uninvestigated.

Yeah, wow. And Ren, I'm wondering on the prosecution side, is there ways that we're jumping in that one too? Yeah, so we are going to be doing more prosecution-style work and training, hopefully coming this year. This summer, there's already stuff going on, and already great prosecutors that are working on this problem. There's some prosecutors in certain countries in Africa that are specifically focused on human sacrifice, like that's their main focus. So there's some prosecution efforts that are being put towards this, and we'll be stepping into that realm in Africa more prominently here coming in actually a couple months. That's good news.

Because it just seems, I guess for my culture, just almost unthinkable some of the stuff that's going on. So this operation, the particular one you're talking about now, it's still continuing, right, Ryan? Yeah, so it is still ongoing. There were three arrests made, and those three people have been charged with trafficking and aggravated defilement charges, which is great. But there is more, and we are doing more. I won't reveal too much, as it is an ongoing investigation. But we are definitely following some leads to link some of the other individuals who were definitely involved, as opposed to just the main three that kicked out the girl and abused her.

Yeah, so it's closed in one sense, but it's definitely open and ongoing, and there's much larger investigation around this. Yeah, I'm sure that the same question is on my mind that's on a lot of people's minds about the church. What kind of church was this? Yeah, I mean, it's hard to, these small villages and these very remote areas in Africa have been sort of, you know, I use the word Christian with inverted commas, as you can see and hear from the story, hardly anybody that is a Christian is involved in this sort of stuff. So they are these local area churches, and it is where people congregate and come together. And most of the time it's for the right reason, it's for the reason people should be going to church and coming together. But these sort of heinous people that hide inside, you know, all walks of life, you know, it's just one of those things that the church is certainly not involved as a whole, but these people that masquerade as Christians are definitely doing this in the background.

Right. And at the same time connected obviously to a witch doctor, and that's, you know, responsible for some level of their behavior that's kind of crazy. But, you know, undoubtedly in our own churches, in our own country, you know, there's a lot of sheep, I mean, a lot of wolves in sheep clothing. So, you know, it's something obviously we all got to be looking out for in every church, there's no doubt.

So go ahead, Wren. No, I was just saying, yeah, absolutely, you know, there's not always, some people do use that as a guise, you know, or I did see some of the excuses that this particular guy was making is that, you know, he was basically saying that the law has no power over him, that our human law has no power over him, but he's also not letting, within God's law, obviously doing this work, so. Yeah, it's a disturbing case, there's no doubt, and they really thought she was dead is what I understood, right? Yeah, so one of the witnesses actually observed on what they saw a person, what looked like a person to be dumping a body, and the lady, it was late at night, and the lady didn't go and check because there was no noises or no sounds or anything, and she was a bit frightened, you know, for obvious reasons. So it wasn't until later on that the girl was, the girl was scammed. It's just a shame that it took a little bit longer than it could have, but, you know, if you saw someone dumping a body outside your fine garden or outside your garden, it would have taken a lot of thought as well.

Wow, wow. Well, we got to go to a break, and we come back, we've got another whole case to cover with you so that you can be aware of it, and obviously, you know, all this is so that you can be updated on how you can be praying for Africa for the team over there, and certainly for the church over there as well, as that's an opportunity we have here with Land and Rescue, and clearly by going to, you can get in on the prayer team, and we'll be right back with a whole lot more Land and Rescue. As a non-profit 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. Land and Rescue has developed rapidly to combat trafficking. Land and Rescue 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 Land and Rescue, and today we've got these cases in Africa that we're covering, and if you're just tuning in, we just want to let you know it's kind of a touchy subject as we're talking about not only human trafficking, but, you know, human sacrifices and those kind of things as well, and so we had the case of the poor little girl that was left almost for dead, but this particular case that we're going to talk about now, if I'm understanding right, it didn't have that kind of ending. Yeah, no, this one is a little worse, not that you were thinking it could get much worse, but this one's about a mother who left her two young daughters, five and two, and then she went to go to work and she left them with somebody. When she returned home from work, she found nobody there, she found the kids were gone, and then she tried to obviously find out where they were and get them back from there. Then the next morning, some kids on their way to school found a part of an upper body of a small child, the children were missing, the body was missing its head, the police were notified, they came together to begin the search. The sniffer dog was used in this case, and it helped recover a number of body parts of the two deceased young girls.

In the end, they did find the head of the girls, and they actually found them in a brick furnace off to the side of the church again. So yeah, really, really sad case. This one, you can only imagine what a mother who leaves her kids with someone who she thought was to be trusted, and then it goes to earn some money for their family, and then it happens while you're away at work. Yeah, it's just totally unthinkable. I just can't even imagine. And then to have that kind of horrific thing happen to your own child, the trauma involved in that, for even the other kids that found the body parts, it's just more than I can even imagine. Yeah, I mean, super horrible thing to have to go through as a young child on your way to school is finding that life.

This goes all the way through. Super horrible for the mother, super horrible for the family, friends, the village, those kids, the police that have to go out and attend this. Even our guys on the ground that support the police have to go and be a part of this, and the things that they see and have to help with is really as bad as it can get.

Oh, absolutely. So you guys, of course, jumped on the case, and then what happened? So the manhunt began post-fighting of the children, and the stiff dogs led them to a house where a lady was. Some other evidence was found at the house to suggest that was the house of the person who'd done it. There was a note left on one of the bodies, and they found the notebook that matched up with that note. So the woman was arrested, and then she led them to where the man was, and he was arrested as well. And was that the woman that the lady had trusted her children with? I believe that part of it is still being investigated as far as to how much that lady that she left her kids with was involved.

It doesn't look like it at this stage, but yeah, we're still doing some follow-up investigations to make sure no one who was involved has slipped. And these are by no means just in one country in Africa, am I right? This is a widespread situation?

Yeah, no, you're right, Robbie. This doesn't just take place in one location. It's not isolated. This goes on in many, many countries through West Africa, Central Africa, East and Southern Africa. Unfortunately, it's definitely not a small problem. It's a large problem, and it is something that we do need to do more, and we do need help with doing more.

We do as much as we can, but there's never enough. These two cases are very indicative of the type of work that our teams do in East Africa and West Africa. Kids are snatched on their way to and from school.

They're taken from friends. Parents leave their kids with what they would say is trust in people, and then those people move them on, and they end up in the hands of monsters, really. So yeah, it's something we do need help with, and we're doing our best, and the teams on the ground do a making job in very difficult conditions. Two things I wonder about, Wren, that one of the things that I know you guys are doing so well in this country is getting teachers and stuff in schools to help educate parents and family members what to do to protect their families. I wonder if there's something like that going on in Africa on this type of issue. Yeah, I'm not sure what the answer to that is, but with what's going on with this sacrifice and the rituals of those, for a lot of the people in Africa, that is their religious belief. That is a firmly held, truly held to them, religious belief.

So there is some conversation to be had around how to combat that. If you remove that religious belief, or if you remove that part of their religion, you kind of leave a vacuum that can open it up for other tragedies. So there is kind of a finessing that would have to happen in these situations to drive people away from these actions, but not leave a vacuum where they fill that with something else, if that makes sense. Yeah, and also I wonder about the laws, like if a witch doctor ordered this stuff, but he wasn't involved in it, is he in some ways still accountable? In most countries that would be considered, yeah, some type of accomplice or conspiracy charge, even if they weren't directly at the scene or they didn't actually interact with the victims.

Most places you're going to be able to charge accomplice or some form of conspiracy with that, and in a lot of places the punishments for those, not all places, but in a lot of places the punishment for accomplice or conspiracy can often be as severe as the person that did the actual act. Yeah, I would think that, oh man, it's just, it's absolutely, it's just unthinkable, but like Ryan was saying, you know, all this has probably been going on way, way, way, you know, for centuries, it just, nobody knew it, and it wasn't highlighted. Well, I mean, if you look back in Christianity, there was the time when we, not necessarily Christians, but there were sacrifices to, I believe it was Baal, that was happening. You know, this is something that has been documented and going on for thousands of years, and that kind of leads back to what I was saying about, you know, for a lot of tribes from back during those days, a lot of them converted to Christianity, and that is what removed that drive to sacrifice, and it, you know, Christianity, like Ryan was saying earlier, it shined a light into these beliefs, and that's been amazing for that, but then there's still these populations that are still invested in sacrificing these rituals, and that would, you know, instead of just removing that belief from them, from something that they've helped for thousands of years, it should be replaced with something, you know, in our minds that is Christianity and that is the Lord, but that needs to be replaced with something, just removing that action isn't necessarily going to solve that problem. Darrell Bock Yeah, yeah, I see that completely, and so along with the prayers that we were talking about earlier, obviously that the Lord would raise up, you know, people both in Africa and wherever, whatever countries, you know, to come in and show people what the truth is, right, because, you know, clearly everybody's kind of a victim if that's their belief system.

It's just, right, it's all this kind of things that they don't realize that they're even doing, I guess. Rachel Teagle Yeah, absolutely, you know, it is hard to understand that, and at the same time that we're wanting to eradicate that crime and do it in a more long term, which is to replace that belief with something more holy, at the same time we have victims that need help right now, you know, so there's a balancing act of we need to go help these victims right now, you know, unfortunately these two girls from the last case didn't survive, but we need to help these victims right now while also having a long term strategy for what could change this in the future, so it's a balancing act, it takes a little bit of finesse, and I know there's some programs out there, some aftercare facilities that actually help to work with children of witch doctors and work with survivors, so there's some work happening, but like Ryan said earlier, the amount that's needed to really combat this work is just so monumental and, you know, you really can't have enough help in the fight. Darrell Bock Yeah, so Ryan is obviously, you're there on the ground, and what would you have our listeners be aware that they could be praying for, for you guys? Ryan Joyce Yeah, I mean, just, it's sort of easy to think that, you know, it's a bit of a forgotten continent really, you know, it's sort of seen as, we did try and we did try and help, and it's sort of, they're moving more away from the West, and, but sort of, our listeners can think that, you know, these people and these cases and these kids, they're just like, they're just like our kids, and they're just like your kids, and they just want to go to school, and they want to learn, and they want to run the streets and play and be happy, and for them, these monsters are waiting just predatory-like, so that people can just sort of, just think of it like any other young kid who just wants to have the upbringing and wants to walk and have fun, and it's kind of being prevented, and the more we can help and the more we can, you know, get, grow our teams and the more we can put people out there helping and spreading the word and making sure that police are supported and making sure the investigations are getting done and that rescues are happening, then at least we're in the fight and we're doing what we can.

Wow. Well, we appreciate, we're so grateful, really, for what you're doing out there, Ryan, for what you're doing, Wren, and we will keep praying. Again, we appreciate you so much for listening today and for taking part for your prayers and your support. Obviously, you're able to give financial and all that stuff. Wow, I mean, it really, really, really makes a difference, and so, again, thank you for listening, and we'll be back with many more episodes of Land and Rescue. Stay tuned. This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-11 14:35:27 / 2024-05-11 14:44:58 / 10

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