Australian new reporter, Matt Doran, went undercover with Operation Underground Railroad, a charity that focuses on eradicating child sex trafficking, to bust one of the biggest Child Sex Rings in Haiti.Operation Underground Railroad is made up of a group of Ex-police officers and former CIA Department of Homeland Security operatives who have made it their job to travel the world and rescue trafficked children.
The sting took place on a luxury yacht in the Caribbean, onboard were a group of pedophiles waiting for a dozen girls to arrive, some as young as 10, sold to them by human traffickers.However, unknown to the traffickers, the men on board the yacht are undercover actually undercover agents who have been planning the dangerous rescue operation for over a year.
“Wi, wi,” they say in Creole, explaining that they’re scared.With us are a dozen children, who’ve been released by their captors from locked rooms at the back of the property. They are aged between eight and 14 years old.They are sex slaves.Child trafficking victims who’ve spent their formative years servicing the carnal desires of men, often foreigners, who are three, four, five or six times their age.Their madam tells me that many of their customers are western humanitarian workers who’ve come here to help rebuild Haiti after the recent run of natural disasters.“Every day, every day, every day,’’ she says, after being asked if the kids have experience with westerners.
One of the little girls tightens her ponytail and checks her lipstick in the reflection of the madam’s sunglasses. Her T-shirt logo reads, ‘Viv lavi a mande’, or, ‘Live life to the fullest’. She sneaks a look over her shoulder at a member of the Haitian cartel who is doing a terrible job of concealing a machete.The children are told that we are a planning an underage sex party for a group of wealthy Americans and Australians.The undercover agents I am with explain to the traffickers that the party will take place on their yacht, which has been sailed over from Miami and is now anchored off a beach resort on a spectacular stretch of Haiti’s northeast coast.
In reality, this meeting is part of an elaborate, multi-agency bust that has been almost a year in the planning — all done with the approval and co-operation of federal Haitian police.A meticulous operation that began with the infiltration of the dark web, and that will culminate in the take-down of high-level Haitian traffickers linked to the abuse of hundreds of school-age children.Many of them are traded, as though commodities, to rival gangs, and put up for sale or rent in filthy, underground Haitian brothels.
Some are loaded into trucks or buses and smuggled across the border to be used by tourists in the Dominican Republic.Foreigners with the appetite can buy an hour of their services for as little as a handful of Australian dollars.I’m embedded with an organisation called Operation Underground Railroad, a group of ex-police and former CIA and Department of Homeland Security operatives who travel the world rescuing trafficked children.
This is far from a ‘vigilante group’; leading the team is ex-Department of Homeland Security special agent Tim Ballard, perhaps America’s foremost human trafficking expert.“The problem in Haiti is an international crisis,” Ballard explains. “With so many children displaced or orphaned during the recent earthquake and hurricane, recruiters moved quickly to sweep these children up.
And the worst part of it all is that in many cases the clients are the foreigners who’ve come here to help, the NGO workers and the so-called humanitarians.”As our meeting with the traffickers ends, the undercovers set their trap. They give the criminals the time and place for the bust and agree to a price for the children’s services on the yacht.Over the next week we will meet with the leaders of another five trafficking networks, often late at night in child brothels protected by heavily-armed guards.
“These places are dark and shadowy and the men who run them have virtually no respect for a human life,” Ballard tells me. There’s one way in and one way out … if they catch you filming, that’s when they pull the guns out. That’s when they realise you are better off dead to them than alive.”