For additional articles covering OUR, please go to ACJ Investigates- Derailed: Operation Underground Railroad
On the eve of Human Trafficking Awareness Day, Missy Larsen Vice President of Corporate Communications for doTERRA International sent out an internal memo addressing concerns about their ties to Operation Underground Railroad. They reveal they had severed all ties with O.U.R. back in 2020, after agencies refused donations and trafficking survivors complained.
As the walls continue to close in on Operation Underground Railroad, they suffer another public blow. While we uncovered early last year that doTerra International and doTerra Healing Hands Foundation had severed ties with Operation Underground Railroad in late 2020, they publicly had failed to do so. Following the media reports that Operation Underground Railroad and its founder Tim Ballard were under criminal investigations, sources from both organizations stated that doTerra and O.U.R. were no longer “partnered”. That was included in Lynn Packer’s report A Divorce From Hell: doTerra & Operation Underground Railroad last year (5 Feb. 2021).
According to the memo that was sent out on January 10, investigative agencies refused donations from doTerra Healing Hands due to their affiliation with O.U.R., who is currently under criminal investigation. They also cited the very fact that “many trusted employees left”, likely a reference to the departure of Tim Ballard’s sister-in-law and Operation Underground Railroad’s longtime Chief Financial Officer Tevya Ware, President of Operations Jon Lines and Carlos Rodriguez. The most damning of all came from trafficking survivors and their experience (or lack thereof) with O.U.R.
It appears the separation had little to do with the criminal investigation or “rumors” (as Larsen called them) but it was due to their own investigation.
According to the memo:
“In the past we have been more organizational specific, however, we have found that is not necessarily the best way to fight human trafficking. We are no longer working with OUR. We get this question often and wanted to address it with you all as there are a few reasons“
“We had heard rumors for many years, but we don’t move on rumors. We had to find concrete evidence that OUR was not doing what they should have been doing
The money we were trying to give to investigative offices were coming back to us and they said they couldn’t accept our money as there was an active investigation with OUR
Many trusted employees left. There wasn’t a lot these employees could say because they were legally bound but they did say enough that we knew we didn’t align with OUR any longer
Survivors have shared how after-care is lacking. We had survivors come to us and say they were not given the right types of support for aftercare. This was a major reason we decided to no longer associate with OUR“
doTerra partnered with Operation Underground Railroad through their Healing Hands Foundation beginning in 2016. According the the memo, O.U.R. last received funds from Healing Hands Foundation for “law enforcement operations and tools for trained officers in early 2020“.
According to Missy Larsen, doTerra “tracked the use of the funds”.
Despite all the controversy and obvious warning signs, doTerra by their own admission claims they “had to find concrete evidence” before they would cut ties with O.U.R. For many, this memo is too little and far too late. It wasn’t until investigative agencies refused donations and human trafficking survivors complained about inadequate and improper support from O.U.R. Except this had been the most glaring problem with O.U.R. since their inception. They have no legitimate aftercare program, they simply outsource it when they do, then refuse to give these organizations money after Tim Ballard milks these children and their story both real and imagined for every dime he can get. On numerous occasions, O.U.R. was caught using photos of orphaned children at these facilities and claiming they were “trafficking survivors”.
Once doTerra found sufficient evidence to cut ties, they did so and remained silent.
This is alarming for a number or reasons. It follows a current, yet ever-so dangerous trend in the anti-human trafficking industry, especially O.U.R. The writing was on the wall when it was first announced that Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad are under criminal investigations and numerous credible media reports had come out exposing the organization, it remained business as usual for doTerra and Operation Underground Railroad. Worse, once they did find misconduct by O.U.R., they cut ties privately, while in the public eye O.U.R. profited off the so-called partnership. This continued to lend O.U.R. credibility and allowed Ballard and others during fundraisers to perpetuate the idea, “if we are such a fraudulent organization, do you think a company like doTerra would partner with us?”
Unfortunately, this silence is not uncommon with O.U.R. and their former partners, donors and employees. Whether or not it’s due to a nondisclosure (NDA) agreement is irrelevant. NDAs are not enforceable when the underlying purpose is against the law. Ballard also has a track record of trying to threaten and intimidate potential witnesses.
Regardless, doTerra had an obligation at the very least to inform their employees, customers and donors of their separation with O.U.R. and their reasons behind it on a public forum.
Rather than warning their other partners, donors and even staff from potentially being defrauded or at the very least from donating money to a conspiracy oriented, wasteful organization with a horrible track record, they remained silent. They could have protected more well intended people from getting scammed, who could’ve instead donated to legitimate organizations that actually help and care for trafficking victims and survivors.
Ultimately, doTerra provides additional evidence and further corroborates a laundry list of allegations and claims against Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad. They join over two dozen witnesses, law enforcement agencies, former employees, volunteers, companies and nonprofits that have alleged misconduct and/or severed ties with O.U.R.