Since Advancing Life Foundation covered the operational costs for the Thailand center for Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) early last year, law enforcement has utilized funds and coordinated the rescue of 117 children from sex trafficking over the course of 2019, with 119 criminal arrests made. One particular child would not have received help without the aid of the ICAC center. This is all thanks to a large donation from the Advancing Life Foundation to our partners, Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) who are making a life-changing impact on the lives of dozens of children.
Thanks to these efforts, a 2-year-old who had been sexually abused and filmed was rescued before the videos were distributed internationally. Now the child is safe and receiving aftercare support. If it weren’t for the donations funding the operation of an ICAC center in Thailand, this child would still be facing the daily horrors of trafficking.
An ICAC center is a network of coordinated task forces between O.U.R. and local law enforcement, federal agencies, and prosecutorial agencies. The labs are equipped with the latest software and hardware needed to crack electronic devices and obtain evidence needed to prosecute traffickers and put them behind bars. They have the ability to immediately export images, videos, messages, phone calls, and data from computers, phones and thumb drives that have been found and confiscated on search warrants and arrests. They are also able to extract the information even if it has been protected and locked by traffickers. This technology uses metatags on images and videos to track down missing and exploited children in isolated locations where others may also be in harm’s way.
When a search or arrest is made, there is limited time to be able to extract information from devices. This is not only due to regulations in law to show the burden of proof but often traffickers will have the ability to have colleagues send a code to devices that will erase the evidence. In addition, being able to extract evidence immediately allows them to protect other children by reviewing the meta tags to discern the location that the photo was taken and determine if there might be other children in the area that could be affected by these traffickers. They can also log the photos into an international database to determine who is using and viewing the photos to help capture perpetrators and link rings of traffickers.
In an effort to further the rescue reach of O.U.R., Advancing Life will be funding the build-out of another ICAC center in Ukraine in 2020, which will be the first of its kind in the area and will aid with other European countries as well. This is part of the ongoing initiative to aid children worldwide and end child trafficking.