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The Face of Modern Slavery

Human sex trafficking is a growing epidemic that now impacts many of our communities. It isn’t something that happens somewhere else or only the bad side of town. It isn’t a problem relegated to immigrant communities or violent gangs. Nor is it limited to poor and underprivileged neighborhoods.  Wealthy, educated people have been caught up in schemes that include involuntary servitude, bribery, extortion, money-laundering, and sex-slavery.

Just this year, one of the biggest cases to break in the media is the ongoing investigation and trial of NXIVM, a purported executive-coaching program that is accused of coercion, immigration fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, human trafficking, sex trafficking of children, blackmail, and hazing, among other crimes.

Members aren’t gangsters, they’re not MS-13, or Bloods, or Crips. They’re not an international crime syndicate backed by secret billionaires running an opium ratline through illegal poker parlors. They’re your neighbors. They’re faces you see on your TV.

They may be high-profile people you trust. 

Hollywood Actress Allison Mack
Allison Mack

One of the most innocent-looking is TV actress, Allison Mack, known for her work on the syndicated TV-series “Smallville,” currently airing on Hulu. Mack is awaiting trial and has admitted to a NYT reporter that she branded women in a secret inner circle of the group who were advancing as sex-slaves. These same members were forced to offer-up some form of compromising collateral, such as nude pictures, a compromising video, or just the note to their house. Mack even admitted to promising up her offspring if certain conditions weren’t met.

Seagrams heiresses and major Clinton-donors, Clare Bronfman & Sara Bronfman-Igtet are major funders of this sex-trafficking organization. Their father wanted to have them declared mentally unsound, just before he passed. His death triggered the transition use of a $300M inherited trust which supported the organization’s international efforts after they burned through the first $200M trust. Clare recently requested the courts lift a ban on communication between members of the group because she was, “sad, and lonely, and misses her friends.” Her social circle doesn’t extend far beyond the cult.

The son of ex-Mexican president Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Emiliano Salinas, was a member. His father is rumored to be laundering money through billionaire Carlos Slim, current owner of the New York Times. Salinas privatized Telmex during his presidency and sold it to Slim for, as the rumor goes, “a favor.” Other sources say it sold for $400M while it was valued at $12B. Although Emiliano has publicly disavowed NXIVM he still associates with members regularly.

Daughter of wealthy political donors, Bill and Buffy Cafritz, Pamela, died in 2016 but was a central and influential member up to that point. Also in politics, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) accepted a political donation from the organization, even after her father won a $100,000 lawsuit, brought by NXIVM against him, when they differed in opinion on how to publicize the organization. Between his hiring and firing, he’d introduced Kirsten’s step-mother to NXIVM. She’s still a member.

The list continues. Rosa Laura Junco is the daughter of Grupo Reforma’s president and chief executive, one of the largest media outlets in Mexico. She helped the group establish their Mexico campus. 

Canadian Actress Nicki Clyne
Nicki Clyne

Other familiar faces include Nicki Clyne, from “Battlestar Galactica” and its follow-up, “The Resistance.” Essentially, everyone involved so far is someone you might leave your kid with at daycare, or at least they’re someone you’d trust at first glance.

And each of these people, educated, well-to-do, even refined, were out recruiting new members, every day. Seeking out fresh faces, new minds, and flexible pocketbooks, to immerse in the empowering course work. Membership starts simply enough. Attend courses designed to help overcome trauma of the past and redefine the future with intentional design. As a member progresses they are awarded a sash or belt, much like martial arts.

The central figure of the organization is Keith Raniere, the only one in the bunch you might not let push your kid on the merry-go-round. A sweaty-faced, nasal-voiced, attention-deficit presenting, monologuing, middle-aged, former network marketer who simply doesn’t strike any observer as a charismatic guru to the wealthy.

It was another publicist, Frank Parlato, who began to blow the whistle on the organization after noticing disturbing trends with their more politically active members. “The Clintons got a lot of money from NXIVM, NXIVM members, one of their main NXIVM members was a guy named Richard Mays, he encouraged Clinton to indict their enemies, to use their political influence in Arkansas to indict enemies of Raniere,” Parlato said.

The reach of organizations like this one is immense and insipid. And…

They’re looking for your children.

While the defense will try to prove that members of the group were never defrauded out of property or their freedom, they chose the outcomes of their commitments, prosecutors have several strategies to ensure a conviction, one of which is tracking cash made in Mexico from the sale of courses, which is then transferred or transported into the United States. (I know, it’s a little like busting Al Capone on tax evasion, but a good conviction is a good conviction.)

What’s in it for them?

Unlike drugs which are sold and used up, humans can be sold many times, and for multiple purposes. The profitability is extraordinary. The numbers of people trapped or sold into servitude was on the rise dramatically until President Donald Trump took office and made a solemn vow to bring the epidemic to an end.

When President Trump took office one of his primary promises was to, “Drain the Swamp.” Soon after, he followed with Executive Order 13773 stating proceeds from illegal human trafficking can be seized empowering his administration to seek out marginalized and vulnerable groups who are prone to these kinds of abuse.

To this day, there are over 50,000 sealed Federal indictments rumored to be positioning the largest sweep of child-sex-traffickers the world has ever seen. (For the latest on that just search twitter using #SealedIndictments.)

I was born into a cult.

It’s not easy to talk about. It was nothing like NXIVM but it was certainly uncommon. I’ve had decades to process the experience, yet, I avoid organizations now. Almost all of them. But, I’m fascinated by cults. Actually, I’m fascinated by charisma and its relationship to dignity. Why is it that an average person can stand vulnerable in front of a leader, and allow that leader to manipulate them in a certain direction? What is it that has people become rudderless enough to to exchange their personal dignity for a group identity.

Being born into a cult, I only had an opportunity to choose whether I stayed or went the day I turned 18, and I chose, “No!” So, I’m fascinated by people who have children in these situations, who also believe they are doing right by their kids. Children raised in NXIVM were sent to private “Rainbow Cultural Garden” schools that rotated caregivers and teachers who spoke upwards of eight different languages in front of the children. In theory, students would be adept at thinking and communicating in multiple languages, while in reality, many of these children haven’t been able to transition to a mainstream education environment without lots of problems, many staying back multiple years to pick up basic concepts.

Most of us think the days of slavery are behind us. We’re wrong.

Modern day slave-traders operate with modern day sophistication making it essential that crime fighters have the very best technology available. CTT’s currency tracking technology will provide law enforcement and federal agencies a crucial resource for fighting crime.

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