Editor’s admonishment: adult theme and content
This past weekend I received a request for assistance from a counter-human trafficking organization operating primarily in the northwestern U.S. Consequent to a recently discovered human trafficking ring that is national in scope, is an operational node here in Albuquerque. I was, therefore, provided with a link to a post on an adult dating website and needless instructions on what to collect and report on the matter.
In the day, the go-to website for organizations, such as the LionHeart Foundation, which hunt traffickers was www.BackPage.com. That page was so flagrant in its violation of human rights and trafficking of persons that the FBI promptly seized the web servers and arrested the owners. Similar dating sites scrambled to fill the void that was left by BackPage; and when the music finally stopped the new king was www.SkipTheGames.com.
All my former persons of interest, which I kept a watch on from BackPage, now reside in some capacity on SkipTheGames — same photos, same narratives, same angles. At the time of the demise of BackPage, ours was a feeling of elation as hunters of traffickers — a feeling that gave way to immediate panic at the loss of our staple resource for hunting those traffickers. Ah, but we were delinquent to recall that nature abhors a vacuum, and the next “BackPage” came right along in short order.
The representative link above was the only info I was given along with a request to find the pimp! That may seem rather difficult — but at face value only. There had to be a way to contact the victim of this trafficking event and to make an appointment with (in this case) her on that page somewhere. And as anticipated down at the bottom of the page I found the options.
There are options to call or send an email to schedule an appointment. I first sent an email using a ghost email account from yahoo.com. My comfort zone in these cases doesn’t immediately include talking in-person with these women, but I do it without hesitation to progress the case.
As predicted, there was no real vigil on the other end of that email message I sent. I then texted a message with the objective of finding out where the victim was staying. I used a burner phone number application so as to not compromise my personal number.
In the first exchange, I already scored the cross streets where the victim was located. It should be noted that it is highly unlikely that this dialogue was between me and the victim directly. Rather, it was between me and her trafficker. In many cases, the victims are not even allowed to have a phone. This is a method of strict control exercised by the trafficker. Motels and apartments are the locations of choice for these events. Looking at a map I saw immediately that there was an apartment in the northeast quadrant of that intersection. Rarely is the motel room or apartment number given out immediately.
Once I arrived at the apartment I informed her that I had arrived and asked for the apartment number. With that number I could set up with a good view of the apartment door. With the proper social engineering, I could get her to come to the door and snap some FID photos with my professional Canon camera. As it turned out, her druther was to come outside and meet me to bring me to the apartment. All the better; that was still getting her to show her face.
I quickly chose a random silver Toyota Tacoma pickup truck and set up on it in a vantage point. After giving her the truck’s details I just waited. The victim and her pimp, to my surprise, moved to the truck and stood. The next message asked me “where the hell” I was. I told them I was out walking around the building looking for them. They split up and walked in opposite rotations around the building. I grabbed my FID frames.
(* in some cases the pimp will be the only one to take the money from the John — control!)
I watched the agitated couple return to their apartment, noting that they were in unit H. That was enough for a day. But all told it had only taken me about 90 minutes, and there was still most of the day ahead. Also, I had jilted an in-call scenario, one in which the John is required to travel to the victim’s location. I noticed that on her post she also offered an out-call opportunity. This would allow me to jilt her again and gain some more very important data.
Map reconnaissance revealed the nearest library. I have an affinity for libraries when my out-call jilt opportunities are concerned. This is because they afford me a public parking lot as my cover. Often times I find a library with residents right across the street on several sides. By parking near the street, I have both an offset and overwatch that support decent frame grabs.
I moved immediately to the library location that appeared suitable in the satellite photos. I found it to be excellent. I swapped out my burner number for a new one in my phone app, and began to text the victim again. Her offering outcalls meant (to me) that either she had a car, her pimp had a car, or there was another player with a car. As my luck had been splendid thus far, perhaps the same pimp from before would drive her to the meeting and I could thus get his plate. I could then run the plate to get the registered owner, address, and other pertinent data.
At this point it’s helpful to mention how scrutiny from Law Enforcement Officials (LEO) plays out, because LEO thinks differently in these matters due to their frequently absurd Rules of Engagement (ROE):
“What happens if she actually knocks on that random resident’s door?”
“If nobody answers, then she gets pissed off and leaves. If someone answers, they tell her she has the wrong house, then she gets pissed off and leaves.”
The LEO is nonetheless very reluctant to let this scenario play out. I can only wonder what their brilliant plan to find the pimp’s car would have been and wish them luck. This is the very reason for a synergy between the private sector and LEO in the hunt — strengths mutually offset weaknesses: I can’t arrest someone, you can’t let someone knock on a door.
Eventually, I saw the victim arrive at the house; though I did not see a car. In fact, her pimp drove her there and dropped her off several houses down the street, allowing her to travel the short final distance on foot. After knocking several times and nobody answering the door, she walked to the corner of the street and made a phone call — my phone rang. I didn’t want to listen to the “why you gotta game me” browbeating so I deleted the burner number as I was through with her anyway.
After another phone call, she began to walk in another direction. Certainly she was following her pimp’s instructions to meet him nearby. I crept along, carefully following her. A car did pull up and she got in. Snap-snap went the shutter of my Canon 5D Mark II. I followed the car, planning to only make two turns with it before dropping off. Two turns were enough to confirm that the car returned to the apartment from before — BAM!
From the plate, it is short work to determine if the plate belongs to the car it is on. If there are ever any doubts, the VIN associated with the plate can be checked against the VIN as it appears by the front driver’s side windshield. (Then one can find a nearly bottomless pit of personal information about the registered owner. This information, found through database services like Accurint LexisNexis, may include his relatives, neighbors, and even work associates.)
My arrival time at that day was approximately 1130 local ABQ hrs. My time off-target was 1301 local ABQ hrs. I put together and delivered a report by about 1430 that day. The following day I was informed that the case was accepted as-is by federal agents from the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) office of Albuquerque.
All in all it was a very good day. As for what went wrong, my primary camera, at the moment I tried to take my first FID photo, mysteriously stopped working. This compelled me to divert to my backup camera. By the time I arrived at my office to process my report, the camera had resumed normal function… a thing that prompted me to look upward and shake a clenched fist at the heavens.
By Almighty God and with honor,