When a child is reported missing, it's all hands on deck. The police are on the case, Amber Alerts are issued, helicopters fly over neighborhoods, and it's every parent's worst nightmare. Paul and Marina Foley were living that nightmare when their fourteen-year-old daughter Emmeline went missing. The police were helpful but overloaded, and in the case of a missing child every second counts, because with every passing hour, the chance of recovery decreases.
The Foley's posted desperate pleas for help on social media. A family friend recommended that they contact Saved in America, a non-profit made up of former law enforcement officers, Navy SEALS, Marine Recon Raiders, British SAS, private investigators, and special operations personnel. SIA assists parents and law enforcement in locating missing and runaway children at no cost to families. Since 2014, Saved in America has assisted in 72 successful child recoveries.
The Founder of Saved in America, Joseph Travers served in the Navy, spent twelve years as a narcotics detective in Los Angeles, and later became a pastor founding his own church. A haunting news report about a missing teen prompted Travers to start Saved in America. Human trafficking statistics are alarming. San Diego is on the FBI’s list as one of the top 13 highest sex trafficking areas in the country. According to SIA, "100% of the San Diego County schools studied, found that trafficking recruitment was occurring in their schools." Travers said he was hit by another staggering reality, human trafficking was run by the same gangs that deal narcotics, and with the same organization, and precision.
Travers states, "Gang members give their life to crime and evil, they'll shoot you for a dime and not care, daughters and granddaughters are a commodity, girls are worth more than drugs. You can resell a girl over and over again."
So how does this happen? Why are young girls so susceptible to human trafficking? According to Travers, "Predators recruit girls in junior high, online is also a problem, but they lure girls with jewelry, pay for their hair and nail appointments and brainwash them with psycho-warfare. They get the child away from their family and security, rape, and beat them, and use drugs like marijuana, ecstasy Xanax, and heroin to hook them. Once a girl is on heroin that’s it that’s all they want."
Runaways are also at risk, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that within 48 hours of hitting the streets, one-third of these children are lured or recruited into the underground world of prostitution and pornography.
The Foley's were blindsided by their daughter Emme's disappearance. Paul Foley explains, "We were extremely scared and hurt. You think the worst since children are so at risk of harm when they are on the streets. "
Marina Foley said Saved in America used all of their resources to help find Emme. " They investigated every lead we came up with. Dug into Emme's social media accounts and friends to find messages and clues as to where she could be. They cross-referenced all the friends she had been in contact with. They found clues that gave us some direction. Then they worked that area with internet searches, investigators on the ground and flyers through social media and in the areas looking for help finding her. They interviewed friends and family and anyone who may have had contact with her. They also were our interface with all the law enforcement agencies that were working on the case. They put together a sweep of the area with a huge team. Most of importantly, they were our daily support they gave us advice, kept us going and told us where we should focus our energy. We could not have made it through this difficult time without them."
Saved in America found Emme and brought her home to her parents. She is currently at a treatment facility out of state and is on the road to recovery. The Foley's offer this advice to parents if their child ever goes missing. "Get help quick. Every day is critical. Do not rely on the police to take the action to find your child. They will help but there are limits to what they can do. Make sure your child has a phone that you can track. Have all of the passwords to every social media account they use. Make sure they use that device in a living room or somewhere where you can see what they are doing. Know who their friends are and have open discussions with them about what they are doing and how they are feeling. Get help quickly if they are ever missing. "
Joe Travers warns parents, "Tell children that there are people that will prey on you. Gang members use recruiters to approach kids in junior high and high school. When someone wants to move you away from the family they’re no good. Parents have to wake up and learn how to use technology to protect their children. If anyone tries to pull you away from your family they’re bad. Gang members choose to be predators. "
Saved in America Tip Hotline (760) 348-8808
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