Even though slavery has been abolished for over 150 years in the US and over 200 years in many other locations around the world, remnants of this practice continue to this day in the form of human trafficking.

The United Nations has announced in their 2018 Global Report On Human Trafficking that nearly 25,000 human trafficking victims were detected and reported across 97 countries in 2016 alone, averaging at around 254 persons per country. This is outside of the millions that went missing without a trace.

What is more, 2019 was reported to be one of the grimmest years regarding human trafficking with numbers hitting record heights in the last 13 years.

However, hope is not lost as a team of former navy seals and police officers is stepping up to fight human trafficking in the United States. Saved In America is an anti-trafficking organization that aims to protect teenagers across the US from becoming victims of human trafficking. Bored Panda reached out to Joseph Travers, the Executive Director of Saved In America, to elaborate on the topic.

A group of ex-navy seals and police officers formed an organization to fight teen sex trafficking

Image credits: Saved In America

Saved In America (SIA) was co-founded by Joseph Travers, a private investigator and former police officer of nearly 40 years. He has brought together a team of retired military, police personnel, as well as a number of other experts as volunteers to turn the tide on modern-day slavery and sex trafficking in the US.

Travers was inspired to establish Saved In America after reading about retired Terror Hunters aiming to end child sex slavery in the news: “I was reading an article from the Orange County Register, “Retired Terror Hunters Hope to End Child Sex Slavery” (in foreign countries),” said Travers. “This brought to mind the news I heard recently regarding a missing 17-year-old girl who left her parent’s home in New York. Brittanee Drexel was last seen in a hotel video in South Carolina on April 25th. Where was she?”

Unfortunately, the FBI reported that Brittanee was taken from her hotel in Myrtle Beach by a gang member to a stash house in North Carolina, sexually abused and killed.

Image credits: Saved In America

“As a former Police Detective and current Licensed Private Investigator, I have seen countless cases of missing children,” continued Travers. “I knew many of them ended up being trafficked into human slavery and felt compelled to meet the “Terror Hunters”, to see if there was a way to perform these rescues here in the United States. I immediately made arrangements to meet with them. Through a series of meetings, I met a former Navy SEAL, Jeff Bramstedt who, along with Trial Attorney Alexandria Phillips, helped form Saved In America (SIA).”

One of SIA’s most recent success stories is about two 16-year-old teenagers who went missing one Friday afternoon. The parents had desperately tried everything from calling friends to getting the police involved, but to no avail. They then turned to SIA, who managed to track down the two girls.

Since 2014, the organization managed to rescue over 220 teens from being trafficked

Image credits: Saved In America

The girls had become victims of a gang that sold them off as sex slaves. It is reported that they were just two of over 7,000 cases of human trafficking that year. Fortunately, SIA collaborated with local law enforcement to save the girls in Compton, California.

Travers explains that all SIA Investigators are highly trained former police officers and former special operators (such as Navy SEALs, Marine Recon, British SAS) who work on a 6-step investigative process. This includes everything from collecting information from parents and other people as well as social media, to identifying the workable intelligence and taking action to find the children.

Video credits: Saved In America

“Once [the child is] located, the team immediately coordinates with law enforcement for the rescue of the child and the arrest of the predator,” elaborates Travers. “[The Team] will transport the child to a pre-approved rehabilitation center, police station, or return them to their home/family, in coordination with the parent or guardian.”

So far, Saved in America has managed to save over 220 teenagers since the organization’s launch in 2014. That averages to around 5 teens per month saved from becoming human trafficking victims. SIA also offers help and support in getting legal representation, safe housing, and rehabilitative therapy for victims who have been sexually exploited.

SIA also provides support with rehabilitation for victims who have been sexually exploited

Video credits: Saved In America

Locating someone who went missing just like that is challenging enough, but there are also other factors that make saving the child even harder: “The most challenging cases are those when we receive information to investigate after the child has been missing over an extended period of time,” explains Travers. “The longer a child is missing, the more difficult it is to find the child.”

Lastly, we asked Travers what advice he could give to parents and children to keep them safe from becoming a victim of human trafficking. He said this: “Know your child’s friends and surroundings. Know your child’s social networking communications. Be a friend to your child but still be a parent. Remember, your child is a gift to you from God.”

Saved in America continues to do wonders in tracking down and returning children to their families. You can become a part of this movement by volunteering or donating to the cause through SIA’s website.

The internet is in full support of SIA and its volunteers…