Human Trafficking Rescue: Our Numbers Explained

Posted by Laura Parker on October 15, 2017

At The Exodus Road, we believe in action. As a nonprofit, we also believe that our donors have a right to know that their investments are making an impact to fight human trafficking.

We know that systemic change will take decades, not years, and we believe that the individual’s journey to true restoration involves much more than the moment of rescue. We also value the accurate reporting of what this community is doing to fight for freedom — especially in the intervention space, which is our focus. This is why we share our stats in our reporting and seek to clearly communicate the terms we use as an organization.


While the term “rescue” is ambiguous in the counter-human trafficking field particularly, when we use the word “rescue,” we are specifically speaking of deliverance from a situation of human trafficking (by definition of international law). This can include cases involving restricted movement, trafficking across borders, underage sex trafficking, forced begging or domestic servitude, debt bondage, or labor trafficking. We work all cases under the authority of the local police, and our teams operate in a support-based role during the actual intervention activity.


You will see the terms like “supported rescues” and “help find and free slaves” throughout our communications. We use this language because we recognize that an NGO does not have the power to legally bust down a brothel door. Rather, our role is to support the efforts of local law enforcement and government organizations in the intervention arena.

When we talk about our organization’s progress regarding “total supported rescues,” we are referring to raids and cases that The Exodus Road significantly supported through notable financial investment, investigative support or manpower, the donation of covert gear, and/or direct leadership.

We break this “big-picture” total number down further into two categories: Direct Rescues and Collaborative Rescues.

Direct Rescues are the cases in which the NGO activity was exclusively led by The Exodus Road’s direct staff. In these situations, our organization supplied the staff, financial resources, covert gear, operational support and direct leadership of the case, in coordination with the police. At this point, nearly all of our reported rescues are direct rescues.

In our Collaborative Rescues, we count all situations where The Exodus Road played a key part, but did not provide the totality or sometimes even the majority of what was needed for success. We might have offered a crucial piece of cyberforensics gear that proved essential to an arrest or we may have funded field work for another partner’s case in collaboration. Although collaborative rescues were common in our earlier days, as we have grown we facilitate mostly direct rescues.

We do not count in our statistics cases or activities in which The Exodus Road had only a peripheral or minimal investment or impact.

In addition to documenting human trafficking rescues, we use the same clarification system to report the arrests police make in connection with trafficking cases which we supported.

We use military-grade systems to record our case work and track our success. Because of security, we are unable to make those records public, but we do document press releases, photos, statistics and details of operations when we are able. You can visit our press page here.

Rescues and arrests are ultimately the responsibility of trusted police partners, and The Exodus Road plays a supporting role to local authorities.

Who Are the Operatives?

When we talk about “active operatives,” we are referring to the individuals who are currently on our roster, working to gather information about trafficking. These consist of: deployed Western undercover volunteers (DELTA Team), contract national operatives, and full-time investigative staff.

Our undercover operatives are highly trained, engage in higher level evidence-gathering and primarily operate throughout SE Asia and India. Many have military or law enforcement backgrounds. Undercover operatives serve from several weeks a year in the field to full-time employment, and undergo an intense vetting and training process with our teams.

You can read more about how you can help empower their work by joining Search & Rescue.


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