Stats, Finances: Multiple Reports on Operation Underground Railroad, 2015 and 2023

Defending Utah has a history of sometimes taking unpopular stands. Why is that? The answer is found in our motto:
“Think right and wrong, not right and left”
Those who have been with us since the beginning no longer flinch when they’re surprised at something we put out, instead they learn to ask better questions and uncover new truth.
We’ll never be perfect, and we continue to learn, but you’ll always find a relentless quest for the truth at Defending Utah.

For historical purposes, and because of recent current events, we’re making this original report on Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) from 2015 available here for your review and direct download, by Independent Utah Journalist Lynn Packer: “Rambo Reyes and The Child Sex Slave Rescue Industry” (scroll down to see), as well as additional recent research

SOLUTIONS NOTE: What can we do about child trafficking?

With our publications and research, we always like to give understandable, actionable solutions, to the real problems that we talk about.

Shut down, or extremely limit, Child Protective Services. Get CPS offices out of children’s hospitals where they take children from healthy, loving homes and put them in a very risky foster care environment, where their chances of abuse and even being trafficked are astronomically increased. This is the most common method of trafficking children in America, and the profit comes from federal money that is passed around. If CPS does continue to exist, we must restore the right to a jury trial for parents to better align with the constitution. Also, support Ammon Bundy in his defense, after he rescued a baby for being trafficked.

Government Subsidized Child Trafficking in America

Our May 15th post discussed the real local issue of “Government Subsidized Child Trafficking in America

Where do your donations really go?

What’s in the O.U.R. 990 Form?

“I have founded, established, and served on the board of multiple non-profits, so I know from experience that the most important part of running an organization is financial/moral transparency.” – Investigation by Keli Byers

– $350k salaries?

– Saying that you’re a volunteer, when you actually get paid?

2023 Investigation into OUR finances found here.

Other Money Trails

Internet researcher on the money trail for his film: Watch on Rumble

Excerpts from: “Rambo Reyes and The Child Sex Slave Rescue Industry”

Utah Journalist Lynn Packer’s original report from 2015 on Operation Underground Railroad. The full article is a thorough investigation covering many aspects of OUR’s operations, download link is provided.  Here we’ve posted some highlights.

Disclaimer: The photos were the highest quality we were able to obtain from internet archives.

Full Download as PDF: Rambo_Reyes_Saves_Child_Sex_Slaves_1_Apr_15.pdf

Rambo Reyes and The Child Sex Slave Rescue Industry

Vigilantes Cut Through Red Tape
By Lynn Packer March 31, 2015

A senior Utah assistant attorney general is said to have opined, Sean Reyes has become Mark Shurtleff far faster than Mark Shurtleff.”

Yes, the same Mark Shurtleff who wore a badge and carried a concealed weapon. The same Mark Shurtleff who hired his friend to run a police force inside the AG’s office. The same Mark Shurtleff whoinstead of prosecuting some suspected swindlerssolicited campaign donations from them.

Where Shurtleff went on stage at a sleazy multi-­‐level marketing convention to lead cheers, Reyes went a step further when, for a weekend, he joined a private military unit to rescue purported sex slaves in Columbia, South America. He carried a badge but kept it out of sight because he was undercover. Afterwards Reyes suggested Utahns donate to the group, makes appearances at its fundraisers and promotes the entity to Utah police chiefs.

The Deseret News was among all major Utah media who covered the attorney general’s swashbuckling adventure:

Attorney General Sean Reyes made a secret trip to Colombia last October as part of an operation to rescue child sex slaves. Reyes made the dangerous trek with Operation Underground Railroad, a Utah-­‐based nonprofit organization that works with governments around the world in fighting child trafficking.
. . . . . . . .
The organization set up the sting by posing as wealthy investors in a cartel’s plan to build a child sex hotel in the Rosaria Islands off the coast of Cartagena. To celebrate the deal, they planned a party on the small island of Baru, where the traffickers would bring the young girls. Reyes, who speaks Spanish, played the role of translator and bodyguard for the lead investor. “I wanted to get down where I could make a difference, look evil in the eye and stare it down,” he said.

Operation Underground Railroad is the brainchild of former CIA and Homeland Security agent Tim Ballard. As a government employee in California he had worked undercover to detect and arrest pornographers and sex traffickers. Ballard, a Mormon, said he was frustrated with bureaucratic limitations on which children he could save. As LDS Living Magazine described it:

“So Ballard and his wife went to the temple for guidance. The next morning, in what Ballard describes as a “spiritual download,” he received a clear and undeniable answer: “Find the lost children.”
“I knew exactly what that meant. I was to find those kids who were out of our jurisdictional reach by starting a private, nonprofit organization. I didn’t know how, but something in Utah would lead to this.”
“The family moved to Utah in the summer of 2012, and soon everything fell into place for Ballard to found Operation Underground Railroad, which specializes in rescuing children trapped in slavery.
Before I left the government, I called all my contacts in other countries. I asked if they would still let me come in and operate privately, and they all said yes.”
So the father of six assembled a team of former Navy SEALs, ex-­‐CIA agents, and other operatives with unique skill sets. Despite not knowing where the money would come from, networking and word of mouth quickly led to enough donations to begin operations in January of 2014.

Child Sex Slave Charity Scams and Hoaxes

Ever since [the Colombian raid] where millions of dollars began flowing to government and charitable anti-­‐child trafficking organizations, there have been several scandals and hoaxes.

In 2011 the Dallas Women’s Foundation warned that the country’s human trafficking epidemic was going to hit the city for Super Bowl XLV. The group warned that 100,000 hookers were headed to Dallas, 38,000 of them child sex slaves.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security and state and local police agencies formed a task force to stop the charge. The wave never hit. Yet fundraisers continue to repeat the myth for subsequent Super Bowls and other major athletic events.  – Dire warnings are great fundraising tools.

The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, a network of nongovernmental organizations, published a report in 2011 examining the record on sex trafficking related to World Cup soccer games, the Olympics and the Super Bowl. It found that, “despite massive media attention, law enforcement measures and efforts by prostitution abolitionist groups, there is no empirical evidence that trafficking for prostitution increases around large sporting events.” It concluded:

Despite the lack of evidence, this idea continues to hold great appeal for prostitution abolitionist groups, anti-­‐immigration groups, politicians and some journalists. The resilience of this inaccurate claim could be due to:
• Its usefulness as a fundraising strategy;

• Its effectiveness in grabbing the media and the public’s attention;
• Being a quick, easy way to be seen ‘doing something’ about trafficking;
• Being a more socially acceptable guise for prostitution abolitionist agendas and
anti-­‐immigration agendas.

One web site established to debunk sex trafficking myths said various anti-­‐prostitution groups: Traffick911, Not for Sale, Change-­‐org, Polaris Project, and the Dallas Women’s Foundation…are anti-­‐prostitution groups that tell lies in order to get grant money from the government and charities to pay their high salaries, and get huge amounts of money into their organizations.”

The U.S.’s Invisible Children charity (IC) is now phasing out after being accused of manipulating facts to stop Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) from abducting children, turning the girls into sex salves and the boys into child soldiers. The IC called for the arrest of LRA leader Joseph Kony and asked for greater U.S. involvement against the LRA. The group helped convince President Obama to sign the “Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act” and send military troops to Central Africa. The President told the people in attendance “We have seen your reporting, your websites, your blogs, and your video postcardsyou have made the plight of the children visible to us all,according to a Yahoo news story.

The Washington Post recounted how IC “took the world by storm with the viral video it posted in 2012

The organization started after three young, inexperienced filmmakers produced a DVD whose target audience came to represent a new demographic for charitable giving: American teenagers, most notably young, white, middle-­‐ and upper-­‐class girls and young women. Through adeptly produced media campaigns that relied heavily on sensationalized films, a strong social media presence and regular collaboration with celebrities, their message resonated strongly with this demographic. The organization’s capacity for grass-­‐roots mobilization on an African conflict was almost unprecedented. In doing so, they managed to bring a great deal of attention to the conflict.

But after hyping figures and misrepresenting facts Invisible Children faced a backlash and is fading into oblivion.

Even major news outlets run child slavery stories without checking the facts. In 2006 ABC News reported on two girls it said had been abducted into prostitution. “Debbie, which is not her real name, is one of thousands of young American girls who authorities say have been abducted or lured from their normal lives and made into sex slaves,” ABC reported. “While many Americans have heard of human trafficking in other parts of the world -­‐-­‐ Thailand, Cambodia, Latin America and Eastern Europe, for example -­‐-­‐ few people know it happens here in the United States.

But, according to a CounterPunch report, “Phoenix Police Department press releases describe Debbie as a runaway. Police spokesman Andy Hill told me earlier this week that she was having problems with her family. She left home willingly with a friend, the girlfriend of a pimp, and a few hours later was herself dragooned into prostitution.

It was Newsweek that published what is perhaps the most publicized sex slave exposé. A cover story last year debunked the story of Somaly Mam, a Cambodian whose 501(c)(3) foundation raised millions to fight sex traffickers. Among her supporters were presidential-­‐candidate-­‐to-­‐be Hillary Clinton, actresses Meg Ryan and Susan Sarandon and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.

Mam’s autobiography, “The Road of Lost Innocence,” was an international best-­‐seller. It told her story of how she was sold into sex slavery. She said her grandfather put her in a brothel where she was forced to work ten years as a prostitute. She claimed to have been tortured with wires hooked to a car battery.

Mam had purported victims tell chilling stories about beatings and gang rapes. One claimed an angry pimp gouged out one of her eyes. Newsweek found medical records that debunked
that story. Another “victim” confessed that her story was fabricated and carefully rehearsed for the cameras under Mam’s instruction, and only after she was chosen from a group of girls who
had been put through an audition.”

As for Mam, herself, Newsweek found a relative and childhood friend who said she spent her youth in school not a brothel.

Newsweek said at the heart of the questions surrounding Mam is a debate within the nonprofit sector on the acceptable tactics for fundraising and educating the public.

Mam was also criticized for how her charity managed money. The Cambodia Daily reportedly Mam’s personal financial compensation rose from $0 in 2008 to $85,000 in 2009, $96,000 in 2010, and $125,642 in 2011. Her deputy, Bill Livermore, who later left to form his own anti-­‐trafficking organization, was paid $72,375 in 2009, $166,655 in 2010 and $149,580 in 2011.

Laura Parker serves as vice-­‐president of communications for the anti-­‐trafficking organization, The Exodus Road. The Colorado Springs, Colorado-­‐based charity deploys undercover investigators who claim to rescue sex slaves on four continents. Parker believes the Somaly Mam scandal was inevitable but makes anti-­‐trafficking fund raising more difficult. Some excepts of Parker’s  thoughts:

For two years now I have been using words (both written and spoken) to tell stories and raise money for our start-­‐up nonprofit. I’ll be honest, the world of fundraising is much more brutal than I expected. The soil of charitable work and mission efforts is ripe for fraudulent or exploitative storytelling, and perhaps the Somaly Mam scandal is to be expected.

For me, personally, it was the moment a child finds out Santa is really just Mom and Dad sneaking around after the kids are in bed. If Somaly Mam can fool the world for two decades, who can I trust in the counter-­‐trafficking world? When people see that an award-­‐winning advocate can fool the world (including the experts) for two decades, public trust of charities is dealt a major blow.

The intense pressure can get nonprofit communicators into trouble; it can drive them to embellish the truth. Storytellers have learned that donors, whose financial gifts are the organization’s lifeblood, typically prefer the Hollywood story to the (sometimes) mundane reality of bringing about long-­‐term positive change.


If it’s true, as Operation Underground Railroad suggests, that 800,000 child sex slaves are being trafficked into the United States every year, that’s shocking. And someone should do something about it. Which is what O.U.R. says it’s doing

If it’s not true that 800,000 child sex slaves are being trafficked into the United States every year, it’s also shocking. Shocking that anyone would raise money using misrepresentations and material omissions. And someone should do something about it.

The Utah prosecutor best equipped to handle suspected charity fundraising communications fraud and state income tax evasion cases is Sean Reyes.

Full Article Download as PDF: Rambo_Reyes_Saves_Child_Sex_Slaves_1_Apr_15.pdf


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