Non-profit organizations, law enforcement agencies worldwide and even private industries are increasingly researching and funding technological innovations to disrupt and stem the global epidemic of human trafficking. Worldwide, 2.4 million people are human trafficking victims at any given time, according to a 2012 United Nations report. Eighty percent of them are children and women sold into sexual slavery.
Operation Underground Railroad chief executive and founder Tim Ballard walked into the Imperial County Sheriff’s office Thursday night with a young blond woman in tow. In a meeting room, Ballard, 38, and the young woman sat down. The executive flipped open his laptop. Seated across from Ballard was Imperial County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jimmy Duran. They talked about a few things. About a suspect the sheriffs would arrest the following morning for distributing child pornography. And about the data mining software platform Ballard trained them to use that led to the suspect. “He brought the technology here that allowed us to make the case. From what I’ve seen, this is a very effective tool for law enforcement. And as a result of using it, we made a good arrest,” Duran said.