To an outsider’s eye, the children who roamed the streets of this Latin American neighborhood must have seemed like misfits and outcasts — restless rejects with nothing better to do than hang out on the street at all hours of the day and night. Some people who observed them felt pity. Enough to offer them spare change when the children desperately asked.
But they didn’t know that the kids would not be keeping that money.
This group of more than a dozen young children were being forced to beg and then give their earnings to the adults who controlled them.
The traffickers also forced the children to transport drugs, knowing they were less likely to be suspects.
Because they were so young, these kids were particularly vulnerable to the threats and manipulation that the group of traffickers constantly imposed on them. The children lived without basic necessities, begging through the night when they should have been in a safe bed in a caring home.
Fortunately, through ongoing vigilance in partnership with police, our team heard about them. Once our team gathered and submitted evidence, law enforcement planned their action.
When police mobilized and came to the neighborhood, they were able to arrest several of the traffickers on the spot. A few tried to escape, but law enforcement found them later— leading to several arrests.
A government social worker was present to care for the kids. They were scared, afraid they were in trouble, not sure what would happen next. But the social worker assured them they were safe. They’re now under government protection.
It can be hard to think about what these kids have been through and how long it will take them to heal. However, thanks to your support of The Exodus Road’s work, you can know their abuse has ended.