I am the Director of the Shield Teams and this is an update letter to try to remove a little of the mystery surrounding the Shield Teams and to keep you up to date. However, some of what we do and how we operate will have to remain obscure as bad guys can read websites too. No personal names will be used for security purposes.
April has been a pretty amazing month. We have been able to meld some components rather well. We have teamed up with NeverQuit Investigations & Protection, Inc. This gives our Teams a greater flexibility by being able to be state certified in Security, specializing in Protection and Escort and being able roll out with less liability. In the modern age, even when you are doing the right thing, the bad guys will try to sue the pants off of you. I wanted to address a few concerns out there that I have received as well and want everyone to know that we have thought of many scenarios where the Traffickers (or Tangos, as we call them) will try to bring action against us.
As one NGO had happen in Atlanta, an anonymous tip was placed to Law Enforcement that accused the NGO of being Human Traffickers themselves. Their office in a church was raided, computers seized, etc. Things were cleared up but we have included it in our threat response scenarios.
A fake victim. This would be where we would be set up to pick up a victim who’s real purpose is to obtain information about us, or possibly shelter locations.
A fake Shield Team applicant. This would be where they try to plant someone on our Teams with the hope to discredit us. They would come in and say the right things and do the right things and then bust into a strip club, yell “Defender!” and spray “Wolverines” on the wall, or something to that effect. All in an attempt to have us discredited as wild vigilantes and have us disbanded.
Allegations of impropriety. This would be where a plant would accuse a staff member of sexual misconduct. I am not going to reveal our exact response to this and the other possible threats, but I will say that The Defender Foundation was designed from day one to safeguard the victim and to make this type of accusation very apparently false. And anyone joining Defender hoping to gain access to victims will find they are safeguarded to the 9th degree. One of the worse things they could ever do, is try to do this in an organization that was formed for the protection and safety of the victims. My Shield Team Operators would go through walls after such a person attempting such a thing, me included. No joke.
Anonymous Tips: This was the first listed but it can be expanded upon to include reports of extreme behavior on our Teams behalf, to include extreme vigilantism (already happened) and other things. We basically know we have to endure many of these attacks and all it takes is a quick review of police records to disprove such things and is (hopefully in the future) only a minor inconvenience. You really have to question the motives of such people.
I would add, that we will prosecute false reports against us if we can locate the source, and some of my men are very good at such things.
To a degree, sadly there is infighting in any cause. Groups that can’t play nice with each other, or won’t. The Defender Foundation seeks to be basically a blessing to any group desiring our help. We do look poorly on any scams however.
April has also seen an addition of martial arts lessons for the Teams. Most already have extensive training in various martial arts but it is good to train as a team. At the moment, our Teams are all volunteers. This includes equipment, everything. We have footed the bill out of our pockets for everything from tactical equipment, Go-bags and commo equipment to gas money. I myself have purchased most of the radios out of pocket and have invested much of what I did not have left over in my funds to make sure the teams can roll with a minimum of what can get the mission done. It is expensive to put a Team in the field but it is needed. We will not turn down a victim because my electric bill or car insurance is due. Our radios, among other things (we are using our private vehicles) are the minimum to get the job done and we hope to upgrade our equipment in the future as funds become available.
We are in the middle of several investigations at the moment. One of these should be ready to be turned over to authorities by Friday. I have heard other groups speak very poorly about the tactic of rescuing victims. As a result, we are one of the only groups I know of which does this (if you do, please contact me) and we are the only one I know of that does victim rescues by trained Teams in the U.S. I understand the argument that this problem is so huge that it will never go away one victim at a time. But… our stated goal is that every rescue results in a prosecution and that this tactic will eventually be an enormous blow to the Traffickers. Besides, I actually believe all of the expense, time and risk…are worth it for that one victim, regardless.
However, we are not a one trick pony. The Defender Foundation has taught classes and provided materials to Slavic Missionary Bible Students that are headed to the former Soviet Union and will spread awareness overseas. This helps make them more aware and safeguard themselves and as we told them, they have the potential of preventing far more victims from falling prey to Traffickers, than we could ever hope to rescue. This has encouraged us to reach out to other organizations overseas to see if we can get materials out to them as well. We also do investigations and surveillance of both labor and sex trafficking rings. I am actually quite proud of the Investigation Team at the moment as even as I write this letter, they have uncovered some amazing things today. We are also coming up with a plan to expose those that use sex trafficking victims. We want the demand side stopped.
I hate to even use the word “rescue” truthfully. Many originations claim to rescue but when it comes to actually doing it, they have victims bought to them and will point the police in the right direction if they don’t know what to do with a victim. Or they “rescue” by donating to women’s shelters and orphanages, which is all great stuff, but not centered on trafficking victims and hardly any of these organizations have a plan or a strategic plan to go get the victims. If one fell out of the sky, they might grab their spouse possibly and try to pick them up, but no organization. This is why I tend to term our operations as a victim retrieval or pickup. There are less than a hundred dedicated beds for Human Trafficking victims in this country right now. I wish some of these “rescue” organizations would task some of their funds to build more. All I’m saying.
Tabitha’s House in Jacksonville, Florida, a dedicated Human Trafficking Shelter, is a breath of fresh air and a welcome resource. Now, I don’t want to be seen as a rabble rouser or detractor, I do want to see these questionable organizations actually fulfill their mandate. I want to help make them better. There are too many victims to worry about tearing someone down when you could be building them up to join the fight effectively. I don’t care about fishing in someone else’s pond or worried about someone stealing any funding coming my way. If someone opened up across the street named “The Other Defender Foundation,” I would support them wholeheartedly as long as they were doing the mission. This is about the victims people. Let’s get it together.
We are not here for glory, for honors or redemption, we are here for the victims, period. Our opposers include Russian Organized Crime and various crime syndicates and gangs. They say you can be judged by your enemies, we think we are off to a good start.
I am here to tell all Human Traffickers that no matter what, no matter what you have done in your past or where you have come from or how you were raised, look into your heart and you will know that selling or buying children or humans period, is simply wrong. My personal Faith tells me that none is above redemption, you can start by contacting us and help us end this tragedy. Even I have things in my past I am horribly ashamed of, but I am doing my best to make a difference, so even you can to. I however look to the future and what I can do. While I am sorry for some things in my past, I will not be looking back, unless I plan on heading in that direction. You can still make a difference. You can help us in this fight. This is not a garden club charity and it will take more than choir boys to end this.
And for those that would sneer at this offer, you make your living by hunting and preying on the innocent, and I have assembled Teams of some of the best hunters on earth.
Prepare to be hunted.
Director, Shield Teams