Project DYNAMO founder and CEO discusses operations in Israel
Project DYNAMO’s founder and CEO Bryan Stern talks to reporters about how his group will try to help evacuate Americans from Israel and asks where the U.S. State Department is in the equation.
Thousands of U.S. children have been trafficked south across the border with Mexico and into sexual slavery, according to a veterans group that has vowed to rescue as many of them as possible.
Project Dynamo founder and CEO Bryan Stern announced “Operation: Lighthouse” on Thursday to mark National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
“Our intent is to rescue American kids who have somehow made their way out of the country, who are being trafficked globally,” he said.
Some were kidnapped, he said. Some were lured. Others ran away on their own but wound up in the hands of child sex traffickers.
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Police patrol as refugees cross from Ukraine into Romania in March 2023. Project Dynamo founder Bryan Stern said he encountered human traffickers at the border of Ukraine and Romania while conducting rescue missions amid the Russian invasion. (Project DYNAMO)
Project Dynamo is a veteran-led nonprofit organization with the goal of rescuing people from disaster areas and conflict zones. It formed during the disastrous U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, when the Biden administration ceded control of the country to the Taliban.
Since then, Dynamo says it has rescued close to 7,000 people around the world.
Our intent is to rescue American kids who have somehow made their way out of the country, who are being trafficked globally.
While conducting rescues in Ukraine shortly after Russia’s invasion of the country, Stern said he encountered traffickers on the Romanian border attempting to lure refugees into modern day slavery.
“Watching how predatorial they were was, frankly, fascinating,” he said. “It was really disgusting.”
Project Dynamo founder Bryan Stern, left, poses with a group of people the organization rescued from Ukraine. (Project DYNAMO)
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He warned them off there and began to look into the issue, learning of American children appearing in explicit videos filmed in Central and South America and vowing to rescue them.
“Human trafficking in America…is a disease,” he said during a conference call with reporters Thursday. “It’s a terrible thing afflicting our country, no different than fentanyl, a commodity business targeting innocent Americans.”
He pointed to a Florida sting operation that ended with 123 arrests this week and rescued 28 trafficking victims. U.S. law enforcement does not need his help, he added, but Project Dynamo aims to operate in places where American law enforcement has little to no footprint, as it has done in its rescue operations for the past three years.
“If the jurisidictions don’t allow, and the resources don’t allow, and the power of the United States government doesn’t allow, somebody, something and somebody has to act,” he said. “The Dynamo motto is, ‘Don’t be a spectator.'”
Bryan Stern and people rescued by Project Dynamo from Ukraine pose for a group selfie in March 2023. (Project DYNAMO)
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While the border crisis has attracted media coverage of migrants illegally entering the country, he said little attention has been paid to the flow of trafficking victims the opposite way.
“What matters is there [are] American children that are actively being targeted, kidnapped, runaways… with the express intent of getting them into the sex trade,” he said. “It’s one of those undefendable things.”
Stern is also urging parents to develop an emergency plan, just in case.
Traffickers often force their victims to call their parents and say they are OK, then come up with an excuse that delays any missing person reports or search efforts, he said. That gives traffickers a head start and a chance to disappear.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Florida arrested 123 people during Operation Renewed Hope, which targeted human trafficking. (Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office)
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“If a kid had a ‘duress’ word, where they called the parent and said, ‘Hey mommy, I’m going over to little Johnny’s house. We’re going to watch the elephant program,’ and mommy knows that elephant is a ‘duress’ word without tipping off the bad guys, the mom would know to immediately call 911 and look at where they are in their phone and ping their location and take some action and opposed to thinking everything is OK when it’s not,” he said.
Parents should also have control over the privacy settings on their children’s smartphones, he said.
Anyone who suspects trafficking can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
Michael Ruiz is a reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @mikerreports