Sound of Freedom: The Story of One Man’s War on Child Trafficking

Last week, JPMorgan accused Cecile de Jongh, wife of the former governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), of working for Jeffrey Epstein and facilitating his underage sex ring.

Meanwhile, JPMorgan itself reached a $290 million settlement with some of Epstein’s victims.

The two incidents do not just highlight Epstein’s vast network; they remind us of the horrific crime of child trafficking, believed to yield annual profits of $32 billion in the U.S. and $150 billion worldwide. It is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world, in competition with drug running and the arms trade.

One man, Tim Ballard, has made it his life’s mission to fight this evil and rescue as many of its innocent victims as he can. A former undercover operative for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Ballard worked on its anti-child-trafficking teams but felt frustrated by the limitations of a government agency. In 2013, he and some colleagues quit to set up Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), which now has 150 employees, 80 contractors, and 70 trained dogs. Ballard and other staffers, who pose as customers to infiltrate child sex rings, have so far been involved in 7,000 direct rescues, resulting in 5,000 arrests. They also provide therapeutic aftercare to rescued children and train law enforcement agencies in five regions worldwide.

His valiant story is the subject of Mexican producer Eduardo Verastegui’s film Sound of Freedom, available for viewing nationwide beginning July 4.

Indeed, there’s an Epstein connection: Jim Caviezel, who plays Ballard, says the film features an Epstein island allegory, and wonders how the “three-letter agencies” could not be aware of the extent of the child-trafficking problem. He hopes the film will motivate more witnesses and whistle-blowers into speaking up.

In the film’s dramatized storyline, a boy whom Ballard has rescued while a government agent tells him to also rescue his sister, handing over a necklace to help identify the girl. Unable to do much in his official capacity, but not having the heart to ignore the boy’s request, Ballard quits his job, teams up with some other agents, and against great odds rescues the girl from Colombia.

While there is no denying that multiple factors encourage the sexual exploitation of children, the real-life Ballard believes that one major contributor in our times is the woke political atmosphere in the country. The irony, he says, is that 20 years ago, people could be arrested for giving pornography to minors, but today, teachers supply what is essentially pornography as part of the curriculum. He warns of the harm teachers and school authorities inflict by manipulating children into gender confusion and gender transition treatment without parental approval. “If you can consent to genital mutilation, you can consent to sex with a 50-year-old,” he says, adding that there are attempts to normalize pedophilia by portraying it as “child liberation” rather than abuse and viewing parents as the enemy for limiting access to their children.

In a parallel development, pedophiles are insinuating themselves into the LGBTQ movement, reinventing themselves as an alternative orientation - Minor Attracted Persons (MAPs). A book published by the University of California Press and based on interviews with a group that bills itself as ‘Virtuous Pedophiles’ even makes a case for their “pursuit of dignity.” There are attempts to get child exploitation material and child pornography legalized. And there are organizations like the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), which advocate pedophilia and pederasty, support sexual contact between children and adults, and work to abolish age-of-consent laws.

Ballard also blames the “open border” policy of the Biden administration for contributing to child trafficking: unaccompanied minors come to U.S. with little or nothing in the way of background checks, and they are given over to people claiming to be their sponsors.

In March, the Biden administration eliminated DNA testing at the border so even when the children are accompanied, there is no way to be sure if they are being smuggled for sale. Some 85,000 children who arrived unaccompanied are believed to be missing.

Speaking about the missing children, Tara Lee Rodas, a whistleblower for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), had testified in April to the Congress’s House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security and Enforcement that she found that many so-called sponsors were part of exploitative networks. Rodas was part of Operation Artemis, the Biden administration’s effort to expedite the processing of unaccompanied children at the Mexican border.

“I thought I was going to help place children in loving homes,” she told the subcommittee. “Instead, I discovered that children are being trafficked through a sophisticated network that begins with being recruited in home country, smuggled to the U.S. border, and ends when ORR [Office of Refugee Resettlement] delivers a child to a Sponsor – some sponsors are criminals and traffickers and members of transnational criminal organizations. Some sponsors view children as commodities and assets to be used for earning income.”

In other parts of the world, Ballard says, children are being trafficked as a result of war, natural disasters, and poverty. He knows of syndicates and families that kidnap or breed children as a cash crop, and gangs that sell them online by the plane load. Vulnerable mentally handicapped women are turned into baby factories, with the children sold for organ harvesting and satanic rituals.

In the U.S., an estimated 500,000 children are trafficked daily – that is, internally, without border crossings. A victim is abused from five to 15 times daily, and only 1% of these crimes are reported. In 2023, the State Department estimated that 6 million children were being trafficked for forced labor (the majority), sexual exploitation, organ harvesting and ritualistic abuse. The FBI disclosed that there are more than 1 million sexual predators online at any given time. According to the National Foster Youth Institute, 60% of all victims come from the child welfare system.

The internet has magnified the problem by expanding the opportunities for predators to reach children anonymously. A Stanford study has concluded that Instagram’s algorithm is promoting in-person meet-ups for pedophilia networks as part of standard operating procedure. Predators have 24/7 access to children through apps, social media and games and can hide their tracks with encrypted messages, disappearing videos, cryptocurrencies, artificial intelligence and by using the dark web. They can advertise for exactly what they are looking for in a victim.

What is especially worrying is that both society and the state seem to abide by a code of omertà when it comes to child abuse and trafficking, revealing less than they know and taking little action, much like the Catholic Church did despite widespread abuse of children by priests. For example, many high-profile individuals knew of Epstein’s exploitation of underage girls and that he provided children as a service to friends and associates years before he was charged. In Hollywood, sex cults and sex parties with children are not uncommon. Yet, there is silence.

Hopefully, Sound of Freedom will help encourage people to speak out. However, the exploitation of children is not just about Epstein and secret Hollywood parties. The film will shock ordinary people and show them how nefarious worldwide networks operate and what it takes to battle them. When Ballard thought of quitting his job and going it alone in the fight against child trafficking, he feared for his family and was wracked by doubts. But his wife Katherine – played in the film by Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino – dispelled them, saying, “You have no choice. You have been called to do this. You know it’s the right thing to do.”

Ballard’s valorous story and righteous tenacity in the face of such abject evil will hopefully inspire many to join the fight to end the exploitation of children.  We must all be vigilant to protect their innocence and ensure their safety.

Image: Pixabay / Pixabay License


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