- The identities of the children shown in the safe house at the end of our story were revealed with the full, legal consent of their carers. Operation Underground Railroad is working directly with the Haitian president on the prosecution of the traffickers.
On a luxury yacht in the Caribbean, a group of men are waiting for their party guests to arrive - dozens of girls, some as young as 10 years old, who have been sold to the group for the evening by human traffickers.
But there won’t be a party. The men onboard the yacht, posing as pedophiles from the US and Australia, are actually undercover agents who have planning a dangerous rescue operation for more than a year.
In a major Sunday Night investigation, reporter Matt Doran joined the team from global child rescue agency Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) as the elaborate sting took place on the yacht and in a nearby luxury resort.
Among the undercover agents are two Australians: Pete, a paramedic, and Vivienne, a former detective.
While Vivienne’s job in the operation is to look after the girls as a ‘groomer’, Pete’s role is more confronting.
“Part of it is a disgusting part and that's being one of the pedophiles, and I'm there to party, be one of the party goers and actually pretend that I want to have sex with one of these girls,” Pete said.
“My other part of the Haiti job is that I'm a medical expert, and part of that is overseeing everyone in the team and making sure that all their health and safety is looked after.”
On the day of the operation, the traffickers arrive at the resort accompanied by more than 30 girls.
As the children are ushered into a room with Vivienne, the criminals make their way out to the yacht, where hidden cameras have been set up to record conversations that will be used as evidence against the traffickers.
The men are filmed laughing and giving high-fives as they boast about the ages of the children.
With clear admissions on tape, the final phase of the sting is to get the traffickers back to the resort to collect their money.
“The boss doesn’t give money on the boat – the money’s in the house,” one of agents tells them.
As soon as the cash is handed over, a signal is given and local police storm the room with their guns drawn.
At least eight mid- to high-level traffickers were arrested in the sting and thirty children were rescued.
They were given a new home in one of several high-security safe houses where they also received medical treatment, trauma counselling and an opportunity to go to school.
“It was just elation to know we’d rescued 30 girls. It’s huge and it’s setting the standard for Haiti now,” Vivienne told Sunday Night,
“Children have a right to be free, to be children. They are not commodities. They are not slaves. The kids don't stand a chance unless someone helps them.”
For more information about how you can support Operation Undercover Railroad, visit: ourrescue.org