If you've been watching the show for a while, then Tim Ballard should be a familiar name to you. A former agent for the Department of Homeland Security, Ballard left his career in law enforcement for a higher calling: the rescue of children from sex slavery through his organization Operation Underground Railroad. The group recently completed their biggest mission yet, rescuing 55 children in Colombia. Ballard joined Glenn on TV Monday night and radio Tuesday morning to discuss the dangerous mission.
"There were three operations going on separately. The one that I was at…Dutch was in Medellin. He can talk about that. I met these traffickers, this group, in the Rosario Islands, which is a place that people, they don’t even know it exists," Tim explained. "Within a half-hour of being there, we’re approached and solicited. I have 10, 11, 12-year-old girls, are you interested? And I thought to myself this is one of these places where these guys have been working with impunity for decades. And people from America and Western Europe, these travelers, they know about it. They go there, which is why it was so easy."
What kind of people would go to these foreign countries for to have sex with young children? As Tim explained, the sheer number of children trapped in this situation shows a scary level of demand.
"There’s two million children being exploited commercially for sex, so what kind of demand would that create? There are so many people that want this. It’s something that I know it’s hard to understand, but it’s anybody, it’s everybody. It’s teachers, doctors, lawyers, you know, people that walk amongst us, and they have this sex addiction, and they start growing it. It stems from porn use, and it becomes an addiction that grows out of control, and these guys end up wanting to buy ten-year-old boys and girls. And boys were on this too. They were selling us boys, these traffickers," Ballard said.
So how did it all go down? On the show, Tim explained that they work in conjunction with local government and law enforcement to bust
"One regret that I often have is that I get taken away in these operations in handcuffs, and the kids see me, and they think he’s that monster, I’m so glad he’s leaving. And I want to tell them no, we were here for you, but I’ve never been able to do that. On this operation, when the family services came in…and we had great cooperation. I need to give credit to the Colombian government and to the U.S. government in the embassy who came in and helped us in a big way," he said. "Ambassador Whittaker, U.S. Ambassador to Columbia, unbelievable, just everything he could do to help us."
"And so as the dust was settling, someone accidentally in the family services, I assume, told the kids those Americans out there, they’re good guys. They were posing as bad guys to rescue you. And as we were walking out and marching out to the boats to be taken away, the kids, we were alerted that they knew who we were, and it was the first time I’d seen this. And these kids come running to the window, and they put their little hands up on the screen of the window, and for the first time in my life I got to see this, see them really experience their liberation."
"The jump team member behind me just started weeping, just sobbing. He grabbed me, and said Tim, this is the sound of liberation. The kids were cheering and singing, and I put my hand up against this little girl’s hand, and we both smiled at each other. It was a tender mercy. It was a gift, I think, because this was the last time I’m going undercover, and we got to witness emancipation."
Tim explained more about the mission on radio this morning: