Former Navy SEAL uses unique approach to stop sex trafficking in Texas
SAN ANTONIO - Sex trafficking is one of the world's most secretive and lucrative businesses bringing in billions across the globe. A non-profit, comprised of former special operations and intelligence officers, is now using a different approach to try to bring the industry to its knees.
'So, you have a child that's that young [and] is forced to have 20 sexual encounters a day, 20 plus sometimes. At that young age, there's mental like stunting that happens,' remarks Jeremy Mahugh, a former Navy Seal who's driven to make a difference in the underground trafficking industry.
Mahugh co-founded a non-profit called DeliverFund.org with a former CIA intelligence officer to take down sex traffickers. DeliverFund's approach differs from many organizations. It focuses on eliminating the source behind the trafficking, instead of primarily on the victim.
"The best way to actually go after this market and dismantle it is really to go after the storefront which means to go after the trafficker," says Mahugh.
DeliverFund uses its teams' extensive background in special operations and intelligence training to do it.
"What we've really done is we've just taken our careers in counter terrorism and taken that methodology [...], all the technology, a lot of the same people, and redirected it here at home to fight sex trafficking," explains Mahugh.
The organization maps out the sex trafficking networks with special technology and applies that knowledge in two primary ways. For one, they disseminate it to law enforcement agencies to aid them in bringing down the bad guys. Another way DeliverFund is targeting human traffickers is through equipping law enforcement with additional skill sets. It's already partnering with Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston Police Departments and now has plan to work with San Antonio's PD training some of its officers beginning in October.
It provides training courses, estimated at about $32,000 for every two officers, that offers an elite caliber of training to which many law enforcement agencies simply don't have access or for which many departments lack the budget.
"Right now, we're doing it for free for law enforcement. They just have to show up. We use private donor money to pay for that, and we buy them the technology. We buy them the software licenses, the hardware, and then we also offer analytic support for the entire year," says Mahugh.
As to the successes DeliverFund's had? It carried out a special sting operation at Super Bowl LI in Houston.
"During the Super Bowl, we actually built [...] 44 cases on different sex traffickers just through a week long event that we had set up at a command center there in Houston. We also discovered two national networks out of that," says Mahugh.
While there is still much work to do, so much of it comes back to what Mahugh learned in his special operations trianing, "A lot of what we're trying to do is we're trying to liberate the oppressed. And, really that translates for me right into DeliverFund and trying to liberate the slaves, the victims."
DeliverFund is largely donor funded. If you would like to contribute to its mission, you can do so at DeliverFund.org.