Operation Underground Railroad

Man Founds Operation Underground Railroad And Saves Over 3,800 Trafficked Kids

For the last six years, one Utah man has made it his mission to rescue as many children as possible from sex trafficking operations. And after successfully saving more than 3,800 kids from such a traumatic and horrific fate, he's nowhere close to slowing down.

Tim Ballard is a devoted father of nine and former Department of Homeland Security agent who founded his non-profit organization, Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) in 2013 to "fight modern day slavery."

For Ballard, his passion for saving trafficked children began while he was still an agent with the DHS.

Facebook | Tim Ballard

Although his background was in counter-terrorism and weapons, he was assigned to work with the Department's child crimes unit to go undercover and infiltrate sex trafficking operations.

“I learned how to basically be just horrible things,” Ballard told Scary Mommy. “I learned how to act like a pedophile or talk like a trafficker or a purveyor of child sex tourism — whatever I needed to do. Then I started to infiltrate different organizations in horrible places in Mexico and Colombia.”

Although the work was certainly traumatizing for this dad, it helped open his eyes to the serious and vast issue of child trafficking in the world.

Facebook | Operation Underground Railroad

As time went on, his work became slightly easier once he learned how to keep it separate from his own family life. But he was still immensely impacted by all the innocent children he met and rescued.

"[The] part that was the worst for me was I would go down and find the kids, and I couldn’t believe how vast it was," Ballard recalled. "I couldn’t believe how big it was. It was at this time we started getting the numbers, and it was in well in the millions of children.”

There were times when Ballard became frustrated by his own position, often bound by red tape that made it difficult to do the job he had been assigned to do.

Facebook | Operation Underground Railroad

No matter how badly he wanted to help every child he learned about, he could only do so much as U.S. jurisdiction would allow. And sometimes that meant tragically breaking promises to parents who were counting on him to bring their child home.

Eventually, Ballard came to realize he could have a much bigger impact on these horrific operations if he was working for himself, rather than the government.

Operation Underground Railroad

With much love and encouragement from his wife, Katherine, he quit the DHS. And in December 2013, he founded his own nonprofit organization, Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.).

Made up of former CIA, DHS, and state and local law enforcement, the team works around the globe to put an end to trafficking operations and to save the children who have been forced into such a cruel trade.

In the six years since OUR was established, Ballard and his team have saved more than 3,800 children and assisted in the arrest of over 2,100 traffickers.

Instagram | @ourrescue

The rescue process begins with assessing and researching the targeted operation, followed by designing a strategy for infiltration. Once the team has decided the "how", they will take action, often going undercover as prospective buyers.

After that, they will move in with local law enforcement to rescue the trafficked children, who are then provided with food, shelter, and therapy to help them readjust following such a traumatic experience.

The perpetrators of the operations are arrested, tried, and convicted.

Ballard credits his wife and his faith for helping him do what he does, despite the mental toll it takes.

Facebook | Tim Ballard

“Without Katherine, there’s no way,” he said. “She would stop me from throwing in the towel in those moments, and she would remind me, ‘As hard as this is, imagine how hard it is for the kids.’”

The pair have actually adopted two of those rescued children themselves — a brother and sister whose parents were unable to be located.

Now a father to nine children, Ballard has retired from fieldwork and instead focuses on publicly sharing OUR's mission with the world.

Facebook | Tim Ballard

As a nonprofit, Operation Underground Railroad relies on donations to continue its incredible work and rescues.

To donate to this worthy organization, click here, and check out their website to learn more about the incredible difference OUR is making in the lives of innocent children all around the world.

h/t: Scary Mommy

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