Elisabeth Meinecke

Brandon Darby, previously an FBI informant, is speaking out on the DOJ's hesitancy to help human trafficking victims, particularly minors. Read more of his shocking account.

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From Townhall Magazine's August report, "FBI Informants Speak Out: Eric Holder's DOJ Is Ignoring Child Sex-Trafficking Victims," by Brandon Darby:

Why Speaking Out Is Necessary

My experiences of working undercover with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force have been well-documented by the media, as has my conversion from a prominent left-of-center activist to a tea party activist who advocates for law enforcement and for our nation.

I was an operational human source, commonly referred to by the public as a type of informant, for the FBI. The FBI has had special agents testify under oath that I was trustworthy and reliable and that my information was always accurate and never deceptive. They also testified under oath that my motivations were deemed to be moral and ideological, not financial. These factors categorized me as a “trusted source,” meaning my words were capable of initiating the FBI to assign resources to request warrants be issued. I have refrained from speaking on issues surrounding my experiences with the FBI, except in matters they have chosen to make public or otherwise ensured me would not have an effect on an ongoing investigation. I have also refrained from discussing any involvement with the FBI since the much-publicized 2009 trial of far Left would-be bombers in which I was the star witness for the FBI and the United States Attorneys’ Office.

It’s no secret that I have retained relationships within the FBI and that I have utilized these relationships for the purposes of helping citizens report crimes or terroristic activity. I have not discussed the fact that I was reactivated as an operational human source for the purpose of aiding the FBI’s efforts to stop human trafficking. In other words, I went back undercover. I am now speaking out without the approval or consent of the FBI due to the gross lack of concern or action from the Justice Department overall to stop known cases of children being trafficked by criminals for the purposes of sex and profits. Another former FBI human source, Dottie Laster, joins me in an effort to hold the DOJ accountable for neglecting the children we know to be sex slaves. Defending the men and women who serve in the FBI and other agencies under the United States Department of Justice has been a central effort in my life since my identity was revealed in connection with the aforementioned trial. I have, however, refrained from defending the politically appointed leadership and their executive managers within the organizations. It is unfortunate that my conscience now mandates I speak out about the leadership’s decisions and priorities. It is unfortunate that I must break from keeping with the culture of silence so prevalent in federal law enforcement agencies under the DOJ.

Untangling the Knots

Laster, a longtime advocate for the victims of human trafficking, contacted me seeking understanding as to why the Justice Department seemingly had little interest in pursuing investigations where slavery was involved. She initially asked me why I would defend such entities when they were refusing to help the victims she worked with. I explained to her that there was surely something we could do as citizens, and I began to research the matter. I discussed the issue with various federal agents and others employed by or otherwise under the umbrella of the DOJ. I learned that the majority of law enforcement agencies did not take on human trafficking investigations due to complications arising from interacting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Agencies that received federal funding were required by federal law to inform ICE of any such investigations and cooperate with them. Unfortunately, ICE would frequently act unilaterally and raid the facility that was being investigated. This made any substantial long-term investigation impossible. ICE has a very thin charter, and removing possible illegal aliens took priority over prosecutable cases. If ICE engaged in a raid too soon, the local agency investigating the possible human trafficking was left with little evidence for prosecutions and therefore wasted much needed dollars and work hours. The end result of this dynamic was human traffickers walking away with little consequence, free to continue their enterprise, and law enforcement agencies that shied away from launching such investigations.

But the FBI exhibiting a seemingly low amount of interest in human trafficking cases was a different matter altogether. As an apex law enforcement agency, they were not required by federal law to notify ICE in the same way that local or state agencies were required. The issues were much more complex with the FBI. The FBI was able to launch investigations on their own, thus ensuring a thorough investigation with proper charges would be possible for the perpetrators of such modern-day human slavery. Unfortunately, the FBI lacked the proper resources and ability to provide the short-term and intermediate safe shelter for the victims they and their informants rescued. The FBI was dependent on the U.S. Attorneys’ Office to designate the victims as witnesses before resources were available to the victims. This dependence on the U.S. Attorneys’ Office for short-term and intermediate resources seemed to be the clog preventing freedom and safety for many trafficking victims based on my research and the FBI agents and assistant U.S. attorneys I spoke with. Human traffickers often targeted illegal aliens who were already in the United States, or would kidnap and bring unwilling citizens from other countries across the United States’ porous border. Therefore, various types of visas would have to be made available for many victims if their testimony was needed to prosecute and neutralize the perpetrators of the slavery. However, other human trafficking victims were U.S. citizens who were either suffering from various addictions or were teenage runaways. Both Laster and I saw the same DOJ hesitancy to help in both groups.

Part of the solution to this clog in the system was addressed with the creation of various visas, such as the T-Visa and the U-Visa. These two visas were designed so that federal agents and other law enforcement agencies would have a mechanism to allow witnesses to stay in the United States to testify against the perpetrators of human trafficking by designating their presence as being necessary for an investigation. Unfortunately, law enforcement was rarely willing to sign the Law Enforcement Declaration form, which was necessary to document the victim’s cooperation and a vital part of the applications. Again, this hesitancy seemed due to law enforcement agency fears of lacking the needed resources to house and feed the victims—a conclusion based on Laster’s and my experiences and discussions we had with individuals from various law enforcement agencies. Once I presented my findings to Laster, we began to strategize on possible solutions to remove the clogs and better help the victims she was working with.

 


Uncovering the Horrors

We decided to reach out to the now-deceased Andrew Breitbart. In short order, Breitbart, Catherine Engelbrecht of True the Vote, Hannah Giles and I created a nonprofit named Citizen Patriot Response to organize tea party groups to help communities and individuals in need without governmental funding and dependence. Though the organization was not founded solely for helping human trafficking victims, the issue was a top priority. My home was quickly turned into a shelter for human trafficking victims under the auspices of the newly formed nonprofit. The idea was that my home could provide the short-term and intermediate shelter and food for the victims. This would hopefully make possible more investigations on the part of the FBI. We had intended for this shelter, coupled with my advocacy and lobbying on behalf of victims to the FBI, to provide a model for how citizens could organize and unite to help law enforcement bring justice to a greater number of human trafficking victims. Laster began to utilize this shelter as a refuge for the human trafficking victims she worked with. I began to use every possible relationship within the FBI to pressure the organization to take on more human trafficking investigations. Though my efforts were initially unfruitful, I did finally find a very caring FBI special agent, whom I will refer to as Special Agent X. Special Agent X began to dutifully examine the cases Laster and I presented. The forms necessary for the appropriate visa applications were signed in a number of our cases, and it appeared that justice was finally occurring with a little push from concerned citizens and a compassionate federal agent. I also asked Laster to become a human source for the FBI so that she could better assist the victims she represented and help initiate investigations when her network had information of new cases. Laster agreed and was opened by the FBI as a human source.

Laster and I presented dozens of cases to the FBI. Many of the cases involved minors who were being forced to have sex with adults for monetary reasons under the threat of violence from human traffickers. Special Agent X worked diligently to record our information and initiate investigations. Laster and I educated ourselves further on guidelines and protocols that the DOJ used in handling such cases. We felt assured by our research that it was a matter of law and a matter of internal policy that the FBI had to investigate and act on cases where minors were identified as being involved. All seemed well.

An Unwilling DOJ

But the majority of the cases we worked on with Special Agent X never turned into investigations for the FBI—even the ones involving children that the FBI was mandated to act on. Special Agent X was shipped to a different part of the United States and was forbidden to work on human trafficking issues any further, even though the guidelines had been followed. I was deactivated without cause (meaning in good standing). As of press time, the new special agent assigned to Laster returned her call but hasn’t communicated with her about the cases. Laster has also not been fully reimbursed by the FBI for time and expenses she incurred at its request.

I have since learned that, though I was correct on my initial analysis of the issues the FBI was having regarding human trafficking investigations, there were many other factors at play. ...

Want more? Order the August issue of Townhall Magazine to read the rest of Darby's report.


Elisabeth Meinecke

Elisabeth Meinecke is TOWNHALL MAGAZINE Managing Editor. Follow her on Twitter @lismeinecke.