DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The innocent faces of victimized children lured Dallas native Matt Osborne away from his State Department job. He left to tackle the seemingly impossible: ridding the world of child sex trafficking. Now Osborne’s helping lead a non-profit whose journey is about to hit the big screen next week for one night only.
“My wife thought I was crazy giving up a government pension,” said the Senior Vice President for Rescue and Rehabilitation with Operation Underground Railroad. “My father thought I was crazy giving up Uncle Sam’s salary.”
Founded in December 2013, the organization gathered the world’s experts in extraction operations and in anti-child trafficking efforts to bring an end to child slavery. O.U.R.’s Underground Jump Team consists of former CIA, Navy SEALs, and Special Ops operatives that lead coordinated identification and extraction efforts. Once victims are rescued, a comprehensive process involving justice for the perpetrators and recovery and rehabilitation for the survivors begins.
“We sit across the table from these traffickers – some of the most despicable human beings in the world – who sell boys and girls as if they’re talking about a sack of potatoes,” Osborne said. He and his team with Operation Underground Railroad pose as buyers; photographers act like careless party-goers. “And for us, we have to fight any desire to physically be sick, or, to be honest, to go over the table and grab them,” he said. But then comes the rescue. They have saved more than 500 trafficking victims in 2½ years.
“I look into their eyes, and I see my daughters. And that is some of the most difficult times I go through,” Osborne said.
The operation doesn’t end there, with the organization pushing hard for prosecution – and, for the victims, rehabilitation.
“It’s hard to really put into words. I’ve heard hundreds of stories. And every time I think I’ve heard the worst, the next one is worse,” said Rescue Volunteer with Operation Underground Railroad, Brian Haden.
Now their stories have been captured on film. A documentary called, “The Abolitionists” – made by the producer of Schindler’s List – airs in 600 theaters nationwide Monday, May 16 only. Osborne hopes it will trigger a movement.
“Now there’s an opportunity for all of us to rise up and do something about this scourge that is modern day slavery,” he said.
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