It’s not often that rockstars makes the news for risking their lives in order to save the lives of others. David Zach, frontman of the Christian band Remedy Drive, has worked countless times as an undercover operative in places like Asia and Latin America to rescue teenage girls from sex trafficking rings.
Zach has spent the past four years working with the anti-human trafficking organization The Exodus Road. The Exodus Road works to track down brothels and rescue young girls from dangerous red light districts around the world.
Zach works alongside Matt Parker, the founder of the organization, going on covert missions to rescue girls forced into the sex industry against their will.
The Exodus Road works with local authorities in order to rescue victims and even arrest abusers. They currently have 63 operatives placed around the world in 12 different countries and have led missions resulting in 927 rescues, as well as 398 arrests.
“Doing work to find evidence of sex trafficking is heavy on the heart. There are so many disruptive emotions that are right under the surface because I’m in close contact with extreme trauma. The trips I go on are usually to Southeast Asia or Latin America, but The Exodus Road operates in the United States, India and the Mideast as well,” Zach said in an interview with The Christian Post.
“The goal of our work is to obtain actionable evidence of sex trafficking that will be used to make raids that will lead to the arrests of those trafficking these girls and the rescue of the girls being sold,” he said. “The Exodus Road has rescued over 900 survivors of trafficking so far, contributing to the dismantling of the crime syndicates and mafias selling these girls and boys.”
Zach has gone on a variety of missions over the years and has seen a lot of hurt, pain and sin. He shared his personal account of some of his experiences working as an operative:
Every night looks a bit different. Sometimes we’re talking to drug dealers from Africa on the streets of Southeast Asia; they also control girls from Africa that may be seated on the sidewalk next to a busy street. We’re there pretending to be potential customers. Or we’ll be escorted by a mobster up an elevator to a hidden floor of a hotel where there are girls from all over the world being sold in each room.
There are dance clubs or karaoke bars where there are sometimes dozens of girls in bikinis either on stage or sitting with customers, being groped by men three times their age and three times their weight.
Sometimes they have the girls behind glass like at an aquarium and men from all over the world sit on one side of the glass, drinking and smoking, and they pick out the girl they want to take by a number on her bikini top. Sometimes this happens out in the jungle or the small villages. Most of the time I’m working in the major cities where sex tourism is an international draw.
These girls are usually part of a mass migration from the countryside down into the major city centers. We’re there to identify and capture evidence of underage girls or girls who show evidence of trafficking. There is a shyness in many of their eyes but still a defiance which surprises me. By some collision of circumstances outside of their control they find themselves stuck in this environment — out on the street, in the club or at a hotel — being controlled by someone else, being sold for sex, working off a debt that is not theirs.
There is one girl in particular who really haunts me. She was maybe 14 years old. She has braces. She was very shy and had a number on her bikini. I asked to talk to her and the person selling her brought her to me. I said that I wanted to take her with me for an hour. In their language, they argued but I couldn’t understand what they were saying.
My translator watched the evidence footage the next day. The handler said, ‘You must go with this man.’ The girl said, ‘I don’t want to.’ [Then he replied], ‘You have to start going with the customers. the bar owner demands it.’ [She replied], ‘But I thought I could make enough money just selling drinks and dancing.’ [Then he continued], ‘No, you must pay back your father’s debt.’ Eventually, the handler said to me in broken English, come back in a week and we’ll have her ready for you.
The story of this girl is the story of so many girls I’ve met. Some fraud has been perpetrated upon her and her family. By force, by coercion and manipulation, they have brought this girl from the simplicity of her farming life down into this brothel. She’s ashamed. She misses her mother. She misses the sunlight on the mountainside. And it seems like she’s resigned to this life even though she hasn’t quite yet realized how awful it will be for her.
Sometimes the people selling these girls are directly connected with organized crime syndicates; sometimes they are employees of brothels or dance clubs and part of their job is to negotiate price.
The mechanism of how this is all happening, who is taking these girls from the countryside, how they are ending up in these brothels — these are the things that those doing investigative work have to piece together in order to gather actionable evidence that will move local and regional authorities to take action against these criminal networks.
When this happens we’re contributing to systemic change in the region and sending a message to other crime syndicates that someone is watching. Even when the whole world is looking the other way, someone is looking out for these daughters and sons.
Sadly, there are around 45.8 million people enslaved today, according to Global Survey Index.
Recently, the United States government has also been working to fight the sex trafficking world. Recently, the federal government seized Backpage.com, a site that was commonly used to post sex ads. The illicit ads often promoted underage sex with children.
A notice that was posted on the site reads that the website’s seizure and that of all affiliated websites is “an important step forward in the fight against human trafficking.”
“Trafficking looks different around the world. In India, we recently bulldozed a brothel to the ground, literally,” Zach told the Post. “That sends a strong message to other people wanting to make money off the backs of our daughters.”
Remedy Drive has raised over $300,000 for The Exodus Road. The band has also partnered with other organizations like Agape
International and Rapha House, who both work to assimilate survivors of sex trafficking back into society. Rapha House creates clothing and accessories, including the band’s merchandise line.
Donations to The Exodus Road help a variety of things including funding operations, rescues, investigations and necessary equipment.
“This April we conducted nine successful missions in Southeast Asia, India, and Latin America. And the best part? Nineteen sons and daughters are now free and 12 perpetrators have been arrested,” the organization celebrated on Instagram.
Want to get involved in rescuing people from the world of sex trafficking? Click here.