According to law enforcement agents well-versed in undercover operations, there is no official or unofficial strategy known as “the couples ruse” employed in the frontline war against pedophilia, child sex abuse and human trafficking.
For additional articles covering O.U.R., please go to ACJ Investigates: Derailed: Operation Underground Railroad
In the mind of Tim Ballard or what I more appropriately described years ago as the “Ballardverse”- “The Couples Ruse” is some closely held, yet highly effective clandestine technique within the realm of undercover law enforcement dedicated to apprehending individuals involved in pedophilia or child sex trafficking. Tim Ballard argues in the wake of multiple accusations of sexual misconduct that the adoption of “The Couples Ruse” is imperative in combating pedophilia. Once again, it appears Ballard is creating a myth out of whole cloth by perpetuating that married couples get bored in the bedroom and that somehow evolves into pedophilia or at least child molestation. They seek to add a child to their bedroom activities in order to “spice up” their sex lives.
It’s unclear if this is an admission or an avenue he and Katherine explored to resolve their own martial bedroom issues or if he is having some sort of mental breakdown. Perhaps a combination of both?
What is clear, according to seven current and former police officers and federal agents with experience in both undercover operations and child sex crimes, “The Couples Ruse” is nothing more than a not-so-clever cover for his[Tim Ballard’s] own “deviancy”.
Given Ballard’s influence and reach both politically, spiritually and professionally, this could be dangerous for medical professionals, especially those who specialize in pedophilic and anti-social disorders as they may also become the target of right-wing conspiracy theorists. That’s because nothing clinically comports to Ballard’s, and now their reality.
This is profoundly unsettling. A man who fashions himself as a crusader for the welfare of children, who claims to have made monumental sacrifices in the relentless battle against human trafficking, yet resorts to disseminating glaringly false information to rationalize his own dubious conduct. It’s moments like these that we get a glimpse of the authentic Tim Ballard.
“[Tim Ballard] invited women to act as his “wife” on undercover overseas missions ostensibly aimed at rescuing victims of sex trafficking. He would then allegedly coerce those women into sharing a bed or showering together, claiming that it was necessary to fool traffickers. Ballard, who was played by Jim Caviezel in the hit film ‘Sound of Freedom’, is said to have sent at least one woman a photo of himself in his underwear, festooned with fake tattoos, and to have asked another “how far she was willing to go,” in the words of a source, to save children. These sources requested anonymity because they fear retaliation.
Initially, steadfast in his denial of any such allegations and asserting that they were mere fabrications orchestrated by Vice and ACJ, he suddenly pivoted to a rather unconventional explanation, which he dubbed as “The Couples Ruse.”
The notion of employing this “couples ruse” as a tactical approach to apprehending pedophiles and child sex traffickers appears, at face value, to be fraught with inherent flaws from the outset. To begin with, extensive research spanning decades, an extensive repository of court cases, and the admissions of pedophiles themselves paint a grim picture – child exploitation is an exceedingly clandestine crime. Its cloak of secrecy extends so far that, beyond the victims themselves, seldom do spouses, friends, or even children of the perpetrators become privy to the heinous acts being committed. Even within the shadowy confines of the criminal underworld, a domain I have intimately known, grew up and even thrived in, a consensus exists regarding the hierarchy of criminality. Within this hierarchy, two figures are universally reviled – child molesters and informants, colloquially referred to as “snitches.” Behind bars, both snitches and pedophiles lives are a living hell, and nearly all find themselves confined to what is colloquially known as Secure Housing Units or Protective Custody, depending on the jurisdiction.
For inmates, targeting either a pedophile or a snitch serves as a means to swiftly gain respect among their peers. Prisons teem with young men eager to prove themselves in this brutal crucible of existence.
The Couples Ruse According to Tim Ballard & O.U.R.
In response to the allegations against him, Tim Ballard undertook a rather unconventional approach, seemingly crafting a contingency plan to potentially counter any forthcoming evidence. He introduced what he termed as “The Couples Ruse,” which he portrayed as a well-known yet closely guarded secret within the realm of combating child sex trafficking. It’s worth noting that this purported tactic remained so veiled that even former undercover officers and federal agents were seemingly unaware of its existence.
However, on September 25, 2023, an unexpected turn of events unfolded on Tim Ballard’s personal Instagram account. Rather than vindicating his reputation, it appeared as if he coerced one of his “female operators” into delivering a message that bore an eerie resemblance to al Qaeda and ISIS hostage execution videos. The video came across as a desperate plea, reminiscent of scenarios where individuals read messages of absolution in the hopes of sparing their lives.
Regrettably, this attempt did not salvage Tim Ballard’s reputation. Instead, it left an unsettling impression, as it seemed to depict a situation where a person in authority demanded his female associates to go to great lengths in professing his virtues while dismissing the allegations against him as mere fabrications.
In the first of these videos, a petite brunette, eerily reminiscent of my late sister who tragically took her own life in March, appeared on screen. She identified herself as a “female contractor for Operation Underground Railroad” and claimed to have participated in numerous undercover operator training sessions with Tim Ballard. She described their endeavors as involving “tireless nights” dedicated to rescuing a young girl. She vehemently denied the allegations against Tim, branding them as “fabricated.”
The video in question came under relentless scrutiny, prompting legitimate concern. It certainly strains credulity to believe that a young woman, possibly half Tim’s age or even younger, with her face unobscured, would willingly present herself to dangerous criminals as a discontented spouse seeking to enliven her marital life with Tim Ballard, involving a minor in such a grotesque scenario.
Moreover, we have gained insight into Tim Ballard’s undercover training sessions, and the evidence suggests that these sessions might not adequately prepare a child for an Easter egg hunt, let alone a complex operation aimed at rescuing children from perilous situations.
Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of this episode was the reaction to it. Tim Ballard has built his career around aggressively pursuing alleged wrongdoers with little to no evidence. The man employees psychics and mages. In fact, he has gone to great lengths to shield the identities of those he claims to have apprehended, often invoking the need to “protect the investigation.” Yet, even after countless investigations have concluded, the names of those individuals remain undisclosed.
Following the backlash, Tim chose to remove the video, but rather than yielding to the mounting criticism, he opted to double down.
In a subsequent post, he featured a different young woman who identified herself as “Natalya.” It appears criticism of the first video reminded Tim Ballard that he was supposed to be an expert undercover agent, so this time he remembered to obscure the face. She asserted that she had served as an undercover operator with O.U.R. for over a year, participating in missions across various countries and continents. Without delay, she transitioned into a vigorous defense of Tim Ballard, stating unequivocally that there had been no inappropriate contact between her and Tim, emphasizing, “or any sexual contact.”
Greg Rogers founding member of the FBI’s Task Force on Child Sex Tourism
“Where he [Tim Ballard] is going on in that video about faith and all that stuff- it’s just a strange rationalization for him to do what he wanted to do, because it absolutely makes no sense”, says retired FBI Special Agent Greg Rogers who was a founding member of the FBI’s Task Force on Child Sex Tourism. Their mission? To bust Americans going to southeast Asia who intend to have sex with minors or those seeking to obtain Child Sex Abuse Material (CSAM) to distribute for profit in the United States.
Greg Rogers currently is an adjunct professor of Criminal Law at Utah Valley University. He retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation on September 30, 2017, and spent four years as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Western District of Texas.
“I was the lead prosecutor on over 50 criminal trials, violent crimes, money laundering, narcotics and civil forfeiture matters, in federal court. I also defended appeals related to those cases in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals”, Rogers told me in a previous interview back in 2020.
Greg Rogers spent decades working both as an undercover agent and as the undercover coordinator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation who specialized in foreign operations and was instrumental in the United States crackdown on American citizens participating in the sex tourism trade in Southeast Asia.
Rogers was so instrumental and well known in the world of undercover operations involving sex tourism that Tim Ballard and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes approached him.
Greg Rogers has been warning federal agencies and the public about Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad ever since working as an undercover coordinator for the US Child Sex Tourism Task Force.
“They don’t hire anybody who knows what they are doing. We’ve had several federal agents, guys who retired that were on our task force and every time they asked me if they should link up with O.U.R.- long before O.U.R.’s credibility was in question and I’d be like no. I’ve known about Ballard and O.U.R. since those early meetings in Thailand and I told them, Ballard is not going to hire anyone who knows what they’re doing, He’s not going to hire you. Why? Because you know what you’re doing and he knows you’re going to argue with him because he doesn’t know what he’s doing”.
Indeed, Greg Rogers’ assertions are correct. According to records obtained by ACJ of the Davis County criminal investigation into Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad, that’s exactly what happened.
O.U.R.’s domestic coordinator Carlos Rodriguez, a retired detective who was in charge of Washington State Patrol’s Missing Exploited Children’s Task Force (MECTF) and who ran the Operation NetNanny stings that O.U.R. took credit for, yet had no discernable involvement in aside a handful of donations and emails demanding the number of men arrested in the most recent sting. In no uncertain terms, Rodriguez expressed his mounting frustration with Tim Ballard and O.U.R.’s disconcerting pattern of misleading both donors and the general public. His discontent manifested in a comprehensive email dispatched to every officer within O.U.R., including current president and CEO Matt Osborne, then president Jon Lines, CFO Teyva Ware and Tim Ballard himself. In the email, Rodriguez compiled an extensive dossier of deceptive claims, including the audacious assertion of having rescued children when O.U.R. bore no actual involvement in such endeavors. Additionally, Rodriguez raised a litany of grievances, touching on the non-existence of a viable aftercare program, among other disconcerting matters.
In forthcoming ACJ coverage, we shall delve deeper into the contents of Rodriguez’s email and the ensuing executive meeting convened at the behest of Tim Ballard.
The ‘Big Lie’
According to Ballard in multiple interviews since the inception of Operation Underground Railroad and the film Sound of Freedom which is loosely based on many of Ballard’s disproven claims, the entire foundation of Operation Underground Railroad and the premise of Sound of Freedom is rooted entirely on the myth that there is all this red tape when it comes to human trafficking, and that the Department of Justice or Homeland Security absolutely refuse to do anything about it. In fact, Ballard has at times advanced the myth that American children are being kidnapped and taken to brothels in foreign countries and pimped out.
Let’s dispel one myth off top. Any American kidnapped and is believed to be taken over state lines, the FBI gets involved, regardless if the agency with jurisdiction asks for assistance or not. The FBI is immediately deployed in cases of children believed to be kidnapped. Part of these myths has fueled two industries exploiting this hysteria.
The biggest and most common misconception is that human trafficking almost always involves kidnapped children or adults or kidnapping is a major component of child sex trafficking. Over 95% of human trafficking involves a parent or trusted adult of the victims, just like child sex abuse. It also serves as a sick fundraising ploy (and common Lifetime Movie trope) used to feed the paranoia and drive donations. It also fuels the “elite rescue team” scams and shady private investigator industry that keeps feeding families of missing persons hope that their child or loved is alive and simply being trafficked in foreign countries.
There is not a single case to date nor is there evidence of kidnapped Americans in foreign countries forced into a life of bondage and trafficking.
Anti-human trafficking organizations like Operation Underground Railroad does not fill a special niche or offers any type of special training, intelligence, tactics or advantages in combating human trafficking and more specifically child sex trafficking.
“Quite frankly, anyone who claims that the United States government doesn’t take human trafficking seriously, just don’t know what they’re talking about.”, Greg Rogers said as we discussed common misconceptions and myths advanced by Ballard and his followers, “They’re listening to radical partisans and people like Tim Ballard. These are the same people that would travel to the Philippines to have sex with their 17 year-old girlfriend, get arrested and then complain we’re too strict with our human trafficking laws. It happens all the time.”
We have established task forces, which are comprised of multiple federal agencies partnered with local and national agencies in foreign countries to crackdown on Americans visiting these countries to engage in sex tourism and more specifically child sex trafficking. On the surface, Tim Ballard’s Operation Underground Railroad, much like Polaris Project before it- are not novel concepts. In fact, they do more harm than good, due to the misinformation and misrepresentations they make about human trafficking just to make a quick buck. Tim Ballard’s Operation Underground Railroad was and remains today, a disturbing criminal enterprise. Yes, for the first time we are no longer using the words alleged or suspected, but crimes have been committed in the operation of this non-profit.
The Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of The Department of Justice’s Criminal Division focuses almost exclusively on what they call Extraterritorial Sexual Exploitation of Children.
“The extraterritorial sexual exploitation of children is the act of traveling to a foreign country and engaging in sexual activity with a child in that country. Federal law prohibits an American citizen or resident to travel to a foreign country with intent to engage in any form of sexual conduct with a minor (defined as persons under 18 years of age). It is also illegal to help organize or assist another person to travel for these purposes. This crime is a form of human trafficking, also referred to as child sex tourism. Convicted offenders face fines and up to 30 years of imprisonment“
What most people don’t know, it’s already a federal crime for any American to travel overseas to engage in any form of sexual conduct with a minor, a person who is under 18 years of age. Even if the child was 16 or 17 years-old and it was completely legal in that country, within their age of consent laws just like there are states in the United States where the age of consent is 16 years-old. Right now, if the age of consent in your state is 16 years-old and you travel to a country where the age of consent is 14 years-old, you face 30 years in prison under United States Human Trafficking laws.
The Couples Ruse is ‘Unadulterated Nonsense’
When the video of Ballard explained the Couple’s Ruse as some closely held secret in the frontline war on pedophilia, child sex trafficking and child pornography, etc.
ACJ asked Rogers in the history of the task force operating in Southeast Asia or if there was any instance he could foresee bringing in two agents under the cover of a married couple looking to spice up their sex life?
Greg Roger’s tone shifts to being almost too serious, “absolutely not”, he answered.
“Never. Not once”, Roger’s emphasized, “It doesn’t make sense as an undercover methodology. None whatsoever”, he went on to say.
“Look, I was the undercover coordinator in charge of operations, if someone had tried to do that [Ballard’s Couples Ruse], if one of my undercover agents came to me and said they wanted to do that I would have said no. For one, it’s not gonna work and well, uh, you know what?,” Greg Rogers asked in reflection as he lets out this ‘perplexed at that absurdity of it all’ chuckle, “It doesn’t make any sense. Nobody’s gonna believe you. It’s not the way it works, it’s doesn’t even make sense.”
At first, Greg Rogers thought Tim Ballard’s couples ruse explanation was “funny”. Then he heard the stories[of Ballard’s sexual misconduct] and started thinking of the brave women who came forward, and many others out there who are rightfully scared. “It’s just twisted”, said Rogers who believes, “we are witnessing the real Tim Ballard. A manipulator and liar who will use and abuse anybody to protect himself and his own interests above all else”.
What about couples actually travelling overseas to have sex minors?
“It’s unadulterated nonsense, no”, according to Rogers.
“Not once”, Rogers said, not on one single occasion out of the twenty plus trips [each trip could last six months or longer] he took over there working as the undercover coordinator, not just coordinating all undercover operations for federal law enforcement agencies working in coordination with Southeast Asian governments that include Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines- but working undercover himself.
“We’re talking about thousands of arrests, prosecutions and extraditions back to the United States. Not one was a couple,” according to Rogers, “spanning three decades. Ever”.
“Pedophilia is very private. Husbands rarely tell their wives [they are pedophiles]”, he explained, “Actually, it would put you at grave risk. They would not believe you’re there to have sex with children, they’d think you’re a cop or journalist and not do business with you or worse. So why the risk? Working undercover is about having the most success and blending in, not trying to sell some rare technique or betting with other undercovers that you can penetrate in some bizarre fashion. There is no award or benefit for best actor”.
Decades of research, data and criminal prosecutions has shown that pedophiles and sex abusers are extremely secretive. Aside from their victims, they rarely tell anyone about their crimes or desires. Especially their wives. Even in the darkest corners of the criminal underworld do they promote their twisted fantasies.
“The couple’s ruse…”, Rogers believes, “That’s just Ballard, quite frankly, just a way for him to be sexually inappropriate with underlings he’s interested in”.
“It was a way for him to rationalize it with all of his devoutness to Mormonism, it was just a way for him to get away with what he wanted to do and it looks to me like the Mormon Church isn’t buying it or allowing him to use saving the children as some cheap excuse. Ballard has never been held accountable.”, Rogers said of Ballard, who constantly invokes his faith.
Days before the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints denounced Ballard in a statement to Vice, Ballard was planning to launch his Senate campaign and had his buddy Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes leak it to several right-wing pundits all but confirming Ballard’s intent.
“There is a zero percent chance Tim Ballard gets elected in Utah”, Lynn Packer said following the LDS Church’s rebuke of the self-described devout Mormon. “He has effectively been excommunicated”, Packer explained.
For years, both Lynn Packer and I heard rumors that Ballard’s ultimate goal was to become a General Authority in the LDS Church and the road there, was through Mitt Romney’s senate seat. As Ballard veered further right and ventured into the land of Christian Nationalism, there were rumblings he planned to primary Romney following his vote to convict Donald Trump in his first impeachment trial. Romney was the lone Republican Senator to do so, causing a divide among Mormons. While many of the faith praised Romney for voting his principles and personal convictions despite overwhelming hostility among the radical right and threat of being targeted by Trump. The question was and remains among many in the LDS faith- can a member of the LDS faith in good conscience vote for Donald Trump?
“I believe he[Ballard] sought to exploit that divide[between members of the LDS faith concerning Trump], had Romney retired or not. He’s a cheap opportunist”, one commenter said in response to tweets discussing the leaked a direct message from Sean Reyes to a conservative pundit.
In the days leading up to the LDS Church publicly denouncing Tim Ballard, he began posturing himself pandering to the MAGA Trump crowd testifying before the House Homeland Security committee going after the GOP’s latest boogieman Director of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.
At one point, Ballard calls President Joe Biden the “Child Trafficker-in-Chief” and demands that he personally locates 85,000 migrant children that Ballard and MAGA Republicans continue to fear monger and perpetuate ‘are lost’ and promote as trafficking victims. In his testimony Ballard once again brings up the Liliana story, except this time, he doesn’t claim to have personally rescued her. He misrepresented her case before the House Homeland Security Committee. She wasn’t a migrant that the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) hadn’t checked in with, she was duped by a Romeo pimp from Mexico and traveled with him to New York City under the pretense that they would be together living with a relative of his. It’s just one of the many ways people like Ballard twist and distort actual human trafficking cases to fit some disgusting fictional political narrative.
Moreover, Greg Rogers demonstrates a multifaceted knowledge base that spans fields as diverse as philosophy, economics, and sports, all while remaining remarkably free from the entanglements of petty politics or resorting to empty slogans. His approach is marked by an unyielding dedication to clarity. When confronted with a claim, he possesses the uncanny ability to provide not only a verdict on its veracity but also to elucidate the underlying context. He engages in thoughtful discussions on the subject, eschewing the familiar dichotomies of partisan politics. Instead, he offers a nuanced understanding, adept at presenting the “who, what, and why” behind complex political issues. Whether the topic is a claim about the number of children under the Biden administration’s care or any other matter, he can swiftly determine its accuracy, debunk falsehoods, and provide comprehensive explanations that promote a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
“This further shows he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and it illustrates just how misinformed and willfully ignorant people are on immigration. It’s a perfect example of just how dishonest this man is and demonstrates that Tim Ballard doesn’t care about the children”, Greg Rogers says of the so-called 85,000 children that Tim Ballard and MAGA Republicans are attempting to pass off as ‘stolen’ or ‘kidnapped’ and the Biden administration won’t do anything.
In reality, the vast majority of these so-called kids in question were unaccompanied teenagers trying to get into the United States for work or to reunite family over here.
The real story is simple, if an unaccompanied minor is referred to the HHS—more specifically, its Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)—efforts are then made to put them into the care of a sponsor. When being released to a family member or friend, they are asked for contact information. Then ORR carries out monthly monitoring checks. Out of all the minors referred to ORR, they were unable to establish contact with 85,000 of them. In most instances, it is just a bad number, or the minor and their family recognize the number on caller ID and don’t answer. They minor and the family is not required to answer or call them back. ORR will try to establish contact three times. The GOP’s solution is to deport them back to Mexico or put them on a bus to the home of Vice President Kamala Harris.
“I’m not sure why someone didn’t look right at Ballard and ask him why he spends majority of his time in countries like Haiti and Colombia or Thailand?”, Rogers said in response to Ballard’s theatrics, “If he’s so worried about the border, why isn’t O.U.R. in border towns rescuing children or in Tijuana combating teen survival sex or as Tim calls it, human trafficking?”
Greg Rogers meeting with Tim Ballard and Sean Reyes
Greg Rogers has been warning people about Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad since their inception. I first spoke with Greg Rogers about three years ago, following his appearance of The How to Heretic, which he discusses his time as an undercover FBI agent. I wanted to discuss his first encounter with now disgraced founder of O.U.R. Tim Ballard which he briefly touches on during the podcast.
“This community is small. Undercovers.”, Rogers goes on to explain, “Especially in child sex tourism, child pornography and human trafficking investigations. When this all started, I’m talking to all the guys we had in the child pornography squad, and when Operation Underground Railroad first started they reach out to us[U.S. Child Sex Tourism Task Force] to… I guess form some sort of relationship, and I’m asking everybody, ‘have you ever heard of this Tim Ballard guy?‘ No. Not a single person had heard of him, and that includes the Homeland Security agents with us”.
Part of the the Tim Ballard mythos is that he was a highly qualified undercover agent within the Department of Homeland Security. According to sources, however, Tim Ballard was never an undercover agent with the agency. Rather he was an Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Agent. While the HSI Division handles undercover operations, we have yet to see a case where Tim Ballard worked undercover to obtain intelligence or gather evidence in a case. Had this occurred, his testimony would be present in at least one criminal prosecution.
“Posing online as a minor, is not undercover work and not classified as undercover work in federal agencies. It’s kiddie porn. You just act like a kid online, you’re not brushing your shoulders with drug cartels and dangerous gang members”, Rogers said in a prior interview.
Court documents spanning five years illustrate Ballard as an investigator that focused on evidence validation. Like in the Buchanan criminal investigation, Ballard’s role was simply to review the contents of the video obtained from Buchanan’s camera and then interview Buchanan to establish ownership or chain of custody. He was not a lead investigator nor was he working undercover infiltrating pedophile rings.
So I asked Greg Rogers about his very first encounter with Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad, which he estimates to be 2013 or 2014.
“In the interest of full disclosure I was trying to give them [Tim Ballard and O.U.R.] the benefit of the doubt, because he had been a former federal agent”, Rogers explains, “I set up a meeting with our assistant legal attaché and representatives from O.U.R. in Thailand, and they literally came into this meeting talking about having former Nary SEAL jump teams and jumping out of helicopters with machine guns to do snatch and grab missions and it wasn’t even five minutes, and we told them we’re not working with them and they’re not welcome in Thailand.”
Rogers concedes that he probably should have done his homework before setting up the meeting. He told ACJ, that he would have never set up the meeting had he heard or watched the Glenn Beck episode the day they launched Operation Underground Railroad.
“[The legal attaché and I] both warned them that if they showed up with weapons in Thailand, we would arrest them. We told them, sorry you’re not welcome here”, Rogers said he laughed in complete disbelief began shaking his head as Ballard and his associates began to leave the room, “This really couldn’t be your plan. The Thai National Police will arrest you,” Rogers continued to scold the men, “you can’t show up in foreign country with a bunch of M-16s”.
To this day he still can’t believe it, we had to pause on three different occasions due to either Greg Rogers or I busting up as he set the scene.. It was hard for him to imagine this private citizen, especially a former federal agent who thought they could show up in a foreign country with weapons and just snatch up people.
“You’d thought you were getting Punk’d it was so ridiculous”, Rogers chuckled.
Rogers explains an undercover agent’s role on the FBI’s Child Sex Tourism Task Force in a foreign country, “even as FBI agents, we could only go into countries we were invited in to. We’re not cops in a foreign country. We’re not federal agents in Thailand and Cambodia. We were invited in by these governments to help them work child sex tourism matters, largely because it involved American citizens and we could coordinate their national police with our law enforcement agencies. We weren’t allowed to carry weapons. We weren’t even allowed to make arrests… the arrests of our targets were handled by the proper agency with jurisdiction”.
The portrayal of undercover officers in movies and television often conflates their roles with those of detectives and plainclothes officers. However, the reality of the job, as told to ACJ by a narcotics detective working undercover with the Detroit Metropolitan Police Department, is far less glamorous. During his tenure working undercover the presence of a firearm was a rare occurrence, and the presence of a badge “was nonexistent”. When he did find it necessary to carry a gun, it was an integral facet of maintaining his cover, and he was acutely aware that it could potentially jeopardize the safety of all involved when he did.
“He lives in a fictional world”, Rogers said of Tim Ballard, “when you hear him talk about child sex trafficking he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Undercover work and this flying helicopters into foreign countries and jumping out with machine guns to snatch up kids and traffickers, it’s a bad movie plot, it’s not real life”.
Greg Rogers then talks about his second encounter with Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and Tim Ballard.
“Giving credit where credit’s due, he’s a very effective fundraiser and very charismatic”, Rogers explains, “he’s got sycophants around him. I spoke at a forum at a law school, my old law school the University of Utah. O.U.R. was there, both Ballard and Sean Reyes and they spoke. I was on the panel and I called them out for what I though was inaccurate information. After the event, I had all these young people wearing O.U.R. shirts literally confronting me, saying how can you say stuff like that about Tim?”
Rogers said it was a very uncomfortable situation because of the number of followers surrounding him, they were quite upset, others extremely angry.
You could tell Greg Rogers was reflecting back on the encounter, as if he were troubled. He says in a concerned tone, “It was like I committed blasphemy. I just told them look, you work for a guy who’s dishonest. You need wrap your heads around that. I said, I’m sorry but that’s the truth. He has believers it’s like a religion. He’s got his followers and I thinks that’s being undermined now. Before all this broke, he had a following of devotees”.
How Undercover Tactics and Operations
Undercover work serves two primary functions, it is an evidence gathering tool and intelligence gathering. Officers are either looking to obtain evidence, such as confessions, locations of criminal activities, where evidence can be retrieved, and come into possession of physical evidence or they infiltrate known criminal organizations in an effort to gather intelligence of the organization, their criminal operations and begin the process of obtaining evidence.
In an effort to combat misinformation and disinformation by supplying accurate information in it’s place, I asked Greg Rogers what are some of the tactics and methods used by undercover operatives to bust pedophiles and child sex traffickers in overseas missions.
Rogers explained that the best and “most common tactic” used, is you either go as a young adult male or older adult male. Obviously, majority of guys that have years of undercover experience under their belt, are almost always going to be on the other side of forty so the vast majority of undercover agents were in their mid-forties according to Rogers.
“My whole team was mid-forties and older”, Rogers explained, “but you hit the clubs, and best strategy to use is to act like it’s your first time there. Reason is, the people that go overseas and do this kind of thing, they will mentor you. We’d go in individually and act like we had never been there before and act really nervous. You’d be amazed.”
Americans, almost always men- would visit countries in Southeast Asia such as Thailand and Cambodia to visit clubs and massage parlors that served as fronts for prostitution and underage prostitution which is exactly what the FBI’s Child Sex Tourism Task Force focused on exclusively. To arrest American men who travel to these countries to have sex with underage children.
Younger agents, they actually get jobs. Jobs at schools, daycares or would get placed within different agencies for foreign governments that work with children. According to Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis for Professional Investigating the Sexual Exploitation of Children which serves as an educational tool for FBI agents and other law enforcement professionals, child sex predators seek opportunities that would put them in direct contact with children for extended periods of time, allowing them to bond and groom potential victims. This gave the agent a perfect cover to observe, perhaps overhear kids talking or earning a kids trust to learn information about potential abuses occurring. It also gave them cover to earn the trust of adults who may see if they were interested in going to a club or get approached by pimps or parents looking for access to a child and other money making ventures. After a period of time they also established themselves in the area as a professional and not a tourist when they went to clubs or engaged with potential traffickers or pornographers.
The Reality of Human Trafficking
In a recent interview with a major media conglomerate, Lynn Packer and I expressed that one of the biggest problems was journalists not holding anti-human trafficking organizations and frauds like Tim Ballard accountable. “When someone uses the term human trafficking, journalists need to interrupt the person or ask them as soon as they’re finished with their script, and ask them specify what exactly do they mean when they say human trafficking or child sex trafficking”, Packer told the reporter.
She tried again to use the term, “human trafficking”.
Packer would not relent, “No. Stop right there and let’s back up. When you say human trafficking, what exactly do you mean? Because this is a new term, well… for the last twenty years being used in place of teen prostitution, survival sex, pedophilia and even pornography by religious fundamentalists. Are we talking about the agency and ownership of people being transferred or is it just a menacing way to describe teen prostitution?”
Which is what happened following the Trafficking Victims Protect Act (what is often called TVPA) signed by Clinton in 2000. The public’s perception of human trafficking is grossly distorted and there is a lack of a proper definition.
“It’s oversimplified, and broad brushes a variety of crimes into one, meant to give prosecutors tools to prosecute the worst of the worst in those crime such as teen prostitution and child pornography. However, the norm now is to use the term human trafficking when describing these crimes in general, and that’s a problem”, I explained to the reporter during Lynn and I’s meeting with her.
Some of ACJ’s earliest reports on Operation Underground Railroad was attempting to nail down a clear concise definition that was being used among experts, law enforcement and non-government agencies (NGOs). Instead it appears that anti-human trafficking groups are deliberately obfuscating and distorting the term for their own advantage and everyone else uses it to their advantage.
Tim Ballard is one of the biggest offenders. For years has evaded defining the term concisely in order to play a numbers game. Ballard has been caught calling clear cases of child pornography, sexual assaults, statutory rape, pedophilia, child molestation, teen prostitution, prostitution, pornography and even teens having sex- all human trafficking.
In the United States the vast majority of Americans believe human trafficking is the kidnapping of children and forcing them into prostitution, a myth that was further perpetuated by the film, Sound of Freedom. In reality, there are few cases, if any, where children are simply kidnapped and forced into prostitution.
I took this opportunity for Greg Rogers to better explain what is really happening, especially in some of the poorest regions on Earth, where O.U.R. and other anti-human trafficking organizations seem to thrive, yet show little results.
“We didn’t rescue any kidnapped trafficking victims and didn’t run into any kidnapped trafficking victims”, said Rogers.
He went on to explain, “tragically in Southeast Asia and it’s a horrific situation, but it was primarily impoverished families and they would actually allow one of their children to be taken to a brothel and they would be paid a monthly stipend. They were doing it to feed the family and hoping the child they gave up, would have a better life”.
Greg Rogers tone shifted, I can tell he is starting to get angry, “This is how you know Tim Ballard had no idea what he was doing going into these third word countries, flashing tens-of-thousands of dollars which is life changing money for all those involved. Initially when he’s talking about going to all these brothels and rescuing all these kids, if he had any idea of what was really going on, he’d know that brothel would get filled up the very next day. If he was doing what he said he was doing, where are the kids?”
According to the retired special agent who conducted over twenty missions, some lasting months at a time, majority of the countries in Southeast Asia and South America have effective systems for either getting child sex abuse and trafficking victims back home or getting them into facilities to rehabilitate them.
He explains, “They’re doing the clean up in their own country. There are also are reputable non-profits operating in Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines, just like South America, so this fiction that Tim Ballard was cutting the red tape and filling a void in just nonsense. This notion that he and O.U.R. specialized and focused on rescued kidnapped children from sex trafficking is just fantasy. In all the years and operations we were involved with we did not come across kidnaped children and here is rescuing 200 or 200 at a time”.
The Paul Hutchinson Incident
Lynn Packer and I have delved extensively into what we have called “The Paul Hutchinson Incident,” that occurred during production of the film and series, The Abolitionists. The production played a pivotal role in marketing and legitimizing Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad. In reality, the film revealed to professionals and the initiated that Tim Ballard wasn’t serious and exposed Operation Underground Railroad’s scheme, incompetence, calamity, and allegations of sexual misconduct. Court depositions between O.U.R. and Darrin Fletcher and Chet Thomas, who were producers and directors for this stylized sales pitch revealed that Paul Hutchinson had sexually assaulted a purported sex slave during the film’s production ultimately revealing that the making of the film and series were anything but legitimate or ethical.
ACJ’s Lynn Packer had interviewed Paul Hutchinson which was covered in a report exactly three years ago. He admitted to the incident. The only deviation is that Hutchinson claims the girl wasn’t a 16 year-old minor- but over 18 years-old.
Hutchinson told Lynn Packer, “It was at a club and manager raised the dress, there was nothing that was ever touched inappropriately. There was a trafficker there next to me, and actually lifted up my hand. If I had pulled back right there my life would have been in danger, no doubt about it. I caressed the side of her arm at the time. Any undercover CIA agent anywhere would have known that if I pulled back and said ‘oh no‘, we would have been in danger for our lives”.
However, in documents obtained by ACJ of the Davis County criminal investigation of Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad suggest otherwise. A transcribed video of the incident proves that Paul Hutchinson has been anything but honest about the incident. Rather than in fear for his life, Hutchinson was especially worried about what trouble he could be in should United States authorities obtain the tape.
Rogers interjected before we could continue reviewing the incident, “just stop there for a second because this has already went way off the deep end… you don’t put your hands on anybody. For them to say if I don’t do that[grope a purported underage sex slave] I’d get killed, it’s nonsense. For him to say ask any CIA operative, clearly shows that not a single one of these guys even consulted a undercover agent or even read a book or magazine article about it and they’re overseas dealing with trafficked children? I find it offensive. Tim Ballard and this Paul Hutchinson guy have built their organizations on the idea that federal law enforcement agencies are inept”.
A transcribed video of the incident and exchange between undercover O.U.R. “operators” including Hutchinson after they leave the club, not only shows that Hutchinson knowingly and willingly caressed the breast of a girl purported to be 16 years-old, but the men believed the girl and others at the club were underage, and concerned the touching could be a problem. Then they joke about it.
In an exchange caught on video, one male voice inquired of another man or the group of men, “You think they’re under age, huh?”
To which, one of the men replied, “Oh yeah, I would put money on that”, and then expresses concern, “I don’t know how wise it was to grab that girl’s boobs, though”.
“You didn’t get that on video or anything, did you?” asks the first male voice.
“That’s nonsense”, Greg Rogers said in response to Hutchinson’s statement to Lynn Packer and in a description of the incident reported by Vice summoning up the video transcript, “At no point does this idiot say that he thought someone was going to kill him or even expresses that he was in fear for his life or even says he felt like he may be in danger. This is right after the incident as they are leaving the club.”
“Quite frankly, that’s just sick rationalization to do something you want to do”, Rogers said as his interpretation of the event based on the evidence.
“Look, criminal or not, this is the hospitality business that caters to mostly rich white men, I can assure you that it’s no different than legitimate business. They want you feel comfortable and important like at any other establishment. You think pedophiles and perverts want to go around criminals, who already hate them, that are heavily armed and have something to prove?”, Rogers emphasized, “this is a business, not New York Undercover“.
Rogers reflected on his time with working undercover inside a major biker gang and several close calls, “I’ve been in horrible situations… scary and potentially deadly, but this is why you’d hire professionals. Tim Ballard hires devotees and those with no prior law enforcement training or actual street cred that can think quick on their feet”.
You have to be savvy enough to keep yourself out of that situation and quite frankly, it’s easy to do.
“We that Paul Hutchinson did that to that 18 or 16 year-old girl, the easiest response is, she’s too old for man. What is this? You act insulted. He’s a millionaire getting ready to drop big money and they are trying to pass off these young women as little girls,” Rogers explains, “Demand younger girls or rattle off some feature or request, say look, I want girls with darker skin. Her breasts are too big, tell them you like little girls. This is all very elementary. You’re a pompous picky white American”.
Rogers explains, “Look, I’ve bought hundreds of thousands of dollars of meth in single buy busts. Plenty of times someone would say, ‘let’s take celebratory toke’ or ‘wanna check the goods’, I’d say ‘hell no man, I’m a business man I don’t deal with tweakers’.”
Had anything inappropriate happened during a legit undercover operation, “it’s over”, Rogers said, “the mission and the entire operation that could have couple have taken years to develop is ruined and the agent in question would have been at least fired, maybe even prosecuted”.
While there is nothing to suggest that Paul Hutchinson had dubious intentions, and that he may have felt that had he not groped and caressed the minor’s breast he would have compromised the mission or blown his cover, nothing indicates that his life was in danger. “The Paul Hutchinson Incident” underscores everything wrong with these vigilante groups and perfectly illustrates that Tim Ballard’s undercover training is ineffective and the so-called operators are ill prepared, almost to comedic effect. What makes this shameful is the fact that they are dealing with child sex abuse victims and possible victims of human trafficking. This not a time for on the job training.
According to multiple sources, Ballard’s primary goal is to hire Mormon men who had just come off a mission or young, dumb, impressionable men and women and full of the boiler room sales tactics.
We previously interviewed an individual who took part in one of Tim Ballard’s undercover trainings and who provided us not just documents and certificates that he received for attending, but the fact that he himself felt grossly underprepared and worried that this is what was being sent out in the field. They were ready to send him overseas in less than 45 days for a period of two to three months based on the emails exchanged between Operation Underground Railroad Director of Regional Operations Louie Greek and O.U.R.’s Ops Team Lead Damien Carrescia who was leading operations in Thailand at the time. Matt Osborne was also involved in the exchange of email as was another new recruit that did not respond to ACJ’s request for interview then or now.
The apparent laxity in Operation Underground Railroad’s operational security (OPSEC) is indeed a cause for concern, particularly given the gravity of the issues they claim to address. It raises questions about their ability to handle covert operations effectively. Within a matter of hours, individuals with no prior law enforcement experience, who underwent what seemed to be a cursory selection and training process to find what appears to be the most inexperienced and most impressionable young man or woman in the class. Spanning just a few hours over two days, one individual managed to amass detailed files on their operations. This included identifying those in charge, new recruits, and privileged information, such as flight itineraries. Such a glaring vulnerability would be catastrophic if they were dealing with truly formidable criminal organizations, as the consequences could be deadly.
Due to the fact that nothing serious like this happened, suggests that O.U.R. likely hasn’t done anything remarkable, such as delivering a crippling blow to a human trafficking organization or major crime figure in South America or Southeast Asia.
Interestingly, it’s worth noting that street gangs in the 1990s were often more adept at maintaining operational security, even without the aid of modern technology or the internet. This may partly explain why law enforcement frequently invests years, sometimes even a decade or more, to infiltrate these criminal networks at their highest echelons.
Understanding these security shortcomings should indeed provoke deep concern, especially when considering how Operation Underground Railroad would have safeguarded the most vulnerable individuals in their purported rescues. The absence of concrete evidence or verifiable claims regarding rescued children further raises doubts about their operations.
Moreover, the persistent allegations of dishonesty and refusal to take responsibility for questionable conduct, as voiced by those in proximity to Tim Ballard, coupled with the fact that both he and Operation Underground Railroad have become the subject of not one but two criminal investigations, only serve to intensify the scrutiny surrounding this organization.
“Look, it’s been ten years, ” Rogers sighs as if this is the same old song and dance, “I know guys with decades of undercover experience in both South America and Asia which has O.U.R. presence, they’ve tried to get on board with O.U.R. with no success and I’ve not heard one legit name that worked in the international undercover community. They keep saying CIA because it’s exceptionally hard to verify this information, but I’d bet the Ballard probably didn’t pass qualifications at the CIA and the same with Osborne. Why? Look at this organization. Poor OPSEC. Inept investigations and horrible undercover work. This is an anti-human trafficking organization and one of their operators touched the breasts of a minor. Against, it is against the law for any sexual contact between an American and minor in a foreign country. He should have been prosecuted, but O.U.R. chose to protect the brand first. If they truly cared about victims of sex crimes, they would have held their own to the highest standards, first and foremost. This was an easy fix and it would have given them credibility had they announced to their donors, that today we had an undercover operative touch a victims a human trafficking. Even if she wasn’t a minor, let’s go with his bullshit story and we know it is, because listen to their conversation as he leaves, but let’s pretend she’s an adult, well she still supposedly is this sex slave. Tim Ballard himself had he gave a damn would have pulled Paul Hutchinson from the field and make an example of him to set standards and accountability. You can’t deal with the world’s most vulnerable children and have mishaps of this nature. The Paul Hutchinson incident illustrates gross incompetency and negligence, this is a failure at every level in your organization.
Greg Rogers is absolutely correct. Tim Ballard is who set the highest standards and expectations by making extraordinary claims. so now he is being held accountable for lying and running what is a criminal enterprise and use it as cover for his own sexual deviancy. It’s a $100 million organization that tell donors they hire only the best of the best, ex-CIA and Navy SEALs. CIA agents and Navy SEALs hold their own to account and I’m not seeing accountability anywhere. What I do see, is a little man trying to weasel his way out of accountability and that’s what is scary. Tim Ballard has never been held accountable, probably going back to his childhood based on his behavior. I’m concerned that we just scratched the surface.
What does Rogers think about Sean Reyes and the Ballard problem?
Rogers replied, “Well the AG [Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes] is not going to come in and say anything, because Ballard has got Reyes by the balls. Reyes is scared to death to say anything, because he’s afraid Ballard is going to out him for all the inappropriate stuff he did.”
What about Tim Ballard and the hell he’s created?
Rogers took a second to think about it- told it as clean as he can, “I’m not one who takes glee in someone’s misfortune, but in this case I’ve been a detractor of Ballard for so long, I’m glad to see he is getting his comeuppance. What he’s done has been very damaging to the undercover community, more importantly it’s been devastating to real human trafficking”, Rogers said reflecting back on the years he spent warning the public about Ballard, Sean Reyes and O.U.R., “he just oversimplifies it and people believed all the nonsense he was saying. He and Reyes have done a tremendous amount of damage to human trafficking in this state. I’m glad to see the truth is coming out, but I’m disgusted because it’s far worse than I could have ever imagined”.