Tactical

The Business of Child Trafficking

Sadly, most people didn’t realize how bad the child trafficking crisis was until they saw the movie Sound Of Freedom. Even sadder yet are those who did and chose to look the other way. Author Dr. Jason Piccolo understood the severity and complexity of the situation all too well. He served nearly 30 years in service to the United States, with over 23 years as a federal agent with the U.S. Border Patrol, Department of Homeland Security, Defense Department, and the EPA. He was at the frontlines of this crisis and saw firsthand the horrors surrounding it. It was time he took a stand and spoke out publicly to the world, or at least before a Federal Grand Jury that was forced to listen finally. This is their sad story.

(Photo by Istock)

Child Trafficking in Washington DC

January 25, 2023. The eyes of the 20-plus members of the Grand Jury traced back and forth from me to the pictures on the screens. The presentation ended. With the images lingering in their minds, the questions commenced. One after one, the jury members lobbed questions to the center of the room. “How can this happen here? Who is in charge? How come this is still happening?” 

I stared back at the faces. I had answers, but they would not paint a pretty picture of the situation. In fact, the picture I would paint would shine a light on a dire situation that would stay with them for days or years after this empaneled jury ends. Then, with a breath, I spoke. I talked for the next two hours, answering questions and discussing paths forward.

The Cold Hard Truth

I spoke about the massive influx of Unaccompanied Children (UC) crossing the Southwest Border after traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles through Central and South America to the United States. More than 400,000 children, from babies to 17-year-olds, have made that journey since 2011. I explained how the number of children keeps rising, and the influx will not stop. 

The next set of questions cut deep and gave them a glimpse of the harsh reality thousands of these children faced. Thousands would not be placed in a safe haven within the border of the United States but forced into the world of trafficking.

Then, the reality of the situation started setting in; they stared back at the screens at the faces of the migrant children on the last slide of my presentation. I spoke once more before I finished. I asked them to take a minute and look at the screens. The faces staring back at you were not Mexican, Guatemalan, or South American. The faces staring back at you were children. Children as young as babies. Children who did not decide to travel hundreds or thousands of miles into an unknown country. The faces were children. They are children. 

There are roughly 16,000 agents to cover the almost 2,000-mile southwest borderline. At face value, that appears to be a lot of agents, but with staffing covering 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and every day of the year, those numbers dwindle.
(Photo by Phantom Rescue)

Eyes Wide Open

Since 2012, more than 400,000 unaccompanied children have traveled to the United States without a family member guiding them. The children travel through austere and deadly terrain, fraught with danger from both nature and humans.

The children come from all nationalities, ranging from babies to teens. The younger children are carried by adults, venturing to smuggle them to the United States on behalf of family members or nefarious characters.

These are not adults making the journey voluntarily. They are children placed in peril on someone else’s accord, regardless of whether it’s for family unification or trafficking. The children are placed in danger without consent.

Thousands and thousands of these children are pawns in a multi-billion dollar illicit smuggling business. A business that views children as commodities smuggled exclusively for profit.

Rolling With The Devil

The children travel from all parts south of that border, as far as South America, to begin this peril-filled journey. But, for hundreds of thousands of children, the deadly journey begins north of the Mexico and Guatemala border on a network of trains called “La Bestia,” otherwise known as The Beast.

The Beast, sometimes called the Devil Incarnate, is a series of cargo trains much like any you would see traversing the nation on any given day. The difference is that The Beast has caused death and injury to thousands since its inception. 

While not the safest, The Beast is the fastest way for the children to travel the length of Mexico to their final destination—the United States. The children wait alongside other travelers for the train to approach. As The Beast approaches, they run as fast as possible to grab onto the small handrails protruding off the side of the rail cars. The children hope they have the speed to reach the handrails and the strength to pull themselves onto the train. Those with both make it on. Those without speed and strength can be maimed and even killed as they fall between the cars and tracks.

The danger does not end when the children make it on top of The Beast. Danger lurks in the shadows from thieves, rapists, and murderers. Danger follows throughout the journey from their countries of origin, and nobody is safe from potential danger. The journey takes 20-plus days to cover 2,500 kilometers, and then they hop onto another Beast for another 1,000 kilometers.

As the unaccompanied children make it to the border, the danger does not end. In fact, it can get worse.

Jason Piccolo at his old duty station on the US/Mexico border.
(Photo by Jason Piccolo)

Child Trafficking at the Border

The almost 2,000-mile United States and Mexico border stretches from the Pacific Ocean in California through Arizona to New Mexico and ends at the Gulf Coast of Texas. With nearly 700 miles of the border covered with fences and walls, hundreds of miles of the remaining border can be breached unfettered by natural or artificial obstacles.

The children have several options when they reach the border, with the options picked by the smuggler, trafficker, or other adults they are traveling with. 

One option is traveling to one of the numerous land ports of entry throughout the border. The uniform officers of U.S. Customs and Border Protection operate the ports of entry. They can take custody of the children as they are handed over by adults or cross willingly.

Another option is to be handed over to a Border Patrol agent patrolling the border at a location outside the port of entry. 

The Numbers Game

There are roughly 16,000 agents to cover the almost 2,000-mile southwest borderline. At face value, that appears to be a lot of agents, but with staffing covering 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and every day of the year, those numbers dwindle. The Border Patrol will take the child into custody for processing and movement further into the United States. The Border Patrol agents are a safe bet for the children compared to the last option. Here, child trafficking never sleeps; it is a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week operation.

The last option is the deadliest. The children are brought to a border area that is not heavily patrolled. The children are shuttled across the border and handed over to a trafficker or smuggler or left on their own accord to traverse the austere geography. The children’s whereabouts in this category are not known. 

The stay with the Department of Homeland Security uniform members doesn’t last long. Within 72 hours, they are handed over to the custody of the United States Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement.

At this point, the children have traveled thousands of miles and through the hands of multiple sets of adults, some nefarious and some with good intentions.

Into A Far-Off Land

As the children move farther from the border, they enter a new and unfamiliar land. The signs and language are foreign to them. Those traveling by air likely never stepped foot in an airplane. The children end up in one of 22 states where HHS houses children in shelters. Little is known about what the children go through at these facilities, only that the children are released to a “sponsor” within weeks of entering a facility. 

As the children move through the convoluted process from place to place, agency to agency, thousands of miles over a month, they face a potential new danger—an unknown sponsor.

The sponsoring process is much like the foster care system, except with hardly a semblance of controls in place. The sponsor system has three categories: the first category is a parent or legal guardian, the second is other relatives, and the third is distant relatives and unrelated individuals. So, yes, the children can and are released to unrelated adults. Little is indeed known about the children once they are released to sponsors.

The Battle Continues

Late March 2023. The Grand Jury presented what they discovered. They said this about the process the children go through, “This process exposes children to horrifying health conditions, constant criminal threat, labor and sex trafficking, robbery, rape, and other experiences not done justice by mere words. We will never be able to forget or un-see some of the heart-wrenching testimony, disturbing videos, and infuriating abuse we have observed in the course of our five-month investigation.”

Get more intel on how you can learn more about these crimes against humanity by visiting jasonpiccolo.us. Also, check out “The Protectors Podcast” while you’re there.

Jason Piccolo is a retired US Border Patrol agent who has covered the subject of child trafficking extensively throughout his career.
(Photo by Jason Piccolo)

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, the American people have very short memories. Shortly after the release of Sound Of Freedom, mainstream news outlets rarely, if ever, covered child trafficking. Thank God for independent media sources! Politicians bloviate on about taking action, but ultimately are all bark zero accountability bite. We hope this piece helped raise even more awareness of the man-induced crisis. Please spread the word and shout it from the rooftops. And “Keep on Praying” (Thessalonians 5:17) that justice for these lost children will be served.

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