Tim: Welcome to Slave Stealer podcast! This is Tim Ballard and Mark Mabry talking about the darkest plague that exists on this earth today and seeking the solution. We have a guest on today that, I think, is part of the solution. I really believe – and I have, for years, believed – that the reason we can’t put our arms around this problem and squeeze it to death – this problem of trafficking and human slavery – is because people don’t know it’s there. They don’t believe it’s real. Or they see something and they turn their head as fast as they can. And so, at Operation Underground Railroad, we have a unique approach, I think. We’re not just waving this banner of darkness. There’s a lot of organizations – and God bless all of them for what they’re doing. The programs that are about awareness often are just waving a flag of depression and darkness, and you look and you’re like, “Eek, oh oh yeah, here’s my five dollars – now never contact me again,” and off they go. They don’t want to see it. That’s not our message. Our message is light. Light. Light in the darkness. Because we provide a solution. We’re going in and extracting. We are providing law enforcement with tools: digital tools, computer tools, training, undercover tactics – everything you would need to know to run an investigation.
Mark: You’re staring the bad guys in the eyes.
Tim: That’s right.
Mark: And how many organizations actually touch the bad guy?
Tim: Yeah, we touch the bad guy, we throw his face in the ground and put him away. That’s what we do! And that is light – that’s hope. And so, we try to push out that light. And one of the ways we do that is by showing people what we do. There’s a team of cameras that follows us around, and we show people what we do. And when those traffickers go away, the world gets a little brighter. And when the next trafficker goes away, the world gets brighter still. And that’s the light that we’re building. See, Montel Williams – who is our guest today – he understands that. He understands that if you shine a light, people will get on board. If you shine a light, the bad guys hate that light! So they’re going to go away. If they don’t end up in jail, they’re going to be so antagonistic to that light that they’re going to crawl up like little bugs and go away. And hide. And Montel gets that. And he’s the kind of voice that we need to be loud and proud and share this light. So that’s going to be his message.
Mark: He’s a passionate guy. As you’re saying, he blew up Facebook a couple of times this year, and Twitter. And even in our conversation with him, he starts out kind of a low simmer and then just crescendoes. And I think you guys will enjoy…
Tim: Yeah, yeah. You don’t want to get in his way, man.
Tim: When he starts moving, you do not want to get in his… I do not want to be a trafficker in the path of Montel Williams when things get hot. And things get hot with this guy.
Mark: He was a Marine, he attended the Naval Academy, he had a career in the military. People don’t realize how bad he actually is.
Tim: Oh yeah, no no. He’s…he’s tough as nails.
Mark: And he delivers, so it’s a great interview.
Mark: Let’s go to it.
Tim: Alright, roll it!
Mark: Tim started to tell me about how you guys met, but his version was really weak compared to what I think yours probably is (no offense, Tim).
Montel: It was literally the morning after the Stadium of Fire. I went up to the breakfast lounge in the place we were staying at, and literally, you know, Tim walked in the door and shut me down. And his speech was just ridiculous the night before. You know, I work on a lot of issues. I’m involved in things that most people don’t even have the slightest idea that I’ve been involved with for years now. Everything from…veteran issues, but I’ve also been deeply involved in trying to help heal some of the wounds that our veterans have faced from war. And those wounds are deep, especially when it comes to traumatic brain injury. And I was blessed to be able to get involved in a process…a study with a medical device that now is going to – over the next year to two years – prove out to be one of the first lines of defense, I think, for many symptoms of traumatic brain injury. We are in the middle of…doing one of the most comprehensive traumatic brain injury studies the world has seen at three centers of excellence. And I only say this because, you know, I’m involved in issues. And why? Because, you know, I got involved… I’m a board member of Fisher House. I was visiting our soldiers 3-4 years ago for…almost every three weeks, I was going down to see every new batch of soldiers that had flown in from Germany or from London, and just going down and visiting troops. So, you know, I’ve been moved by that issue, and then I’ve been involved in things from teen suicide prevention – it’s another issue that I’ve been in for, that I’ve been working on. And then to sit in that room and hear Tim discuss the mission – his emotional, moving story about saving children’s lives.
Mark: Anything you remember in particular – like a line that he said, something that stuck?
Montel: You know, I mean, I could say, sitting like…as I sit here right now and I think about what Tim had to say…you know, there was a call to action. There was a call to step up to the plate and understand what’s going on. And even though I understood as I was sitting at the table, I’m looking at the reactions of the people in the room around me, and you can look and see that some of these people…even though you hear about it, you see it on the news – it goes right over their head. It wasn’t until, I think, they caught the emotion that is involving what Tim had to say, that I saw the emotion start to well up in them. So again, I walk into this lounge, and I was again blown away. All I felt was that I needed to do whatever I could to help Tim make his mission more complete. So, you know, I think I said immediately – “Whatever you need from me, whatever you want from me, I’m there. And let’s go.”
Tim: I think it was your birthday, wasn’t it, Montel?
Montel: Yeah, as a matter of fact, it was on my birthday. As a matter of fact, it was on my birthday. It was the 3rd. That’s right. The night before was the event on the 2nd, and I had brought in four of [inaudible] dinner. One of the other award recipients was Master Sgt. Cedric King, who is a double amputee, a war hero of extraordinary proportion, who was on that stage. So it was very moving the night before to have had him come in and then to meet Tim. And then I wake up – it’s the 3rd – and I told, you know, all the guys from the stadium…I said, “Look, I need to have at least that one day off.” I was going to chill. Honestly, I think I worked for about an hour on the phone, just coordinating – trying to figure out who I was going to talk to as soon as we got past the holiday to figure out how we were going to come together.
Tim: Man, it was an amazing experience for me. I mean, I was starstruck – I’m not going to lie – when you walked into the…you know, because the night before, I knew you were in the audience, and I’m like, ‘I wonder if I’ll get to meet Montel.’ And then, the next day, I’m getting hot chocolate with my kids, and there he was! It was a small little kind of kitchen, you know, and there he was, face to face. And it was an emotional moment for both of us, I think.
Montel: Yeah, yeah, really – an extremely emotional moment. And that’s part of the reason why I think I just really need to help and try to be involved. I have people who are of like mind, who think the way I do, who have been in my corner in my entire professional career, and especially the media. And, you know, those people are very vocal, and they want to be heard. And I think if I reach out to them and let them know that we are involved and we are going to now do some things that before today, I think, have not been done. Yeah, we call out some of these pigs – you know, there are so many shows and it comes and it goes. I want to really, really figure out a way so we get the message out there that is a continual message – in the face, bigger than, you know, the campaigns that they are running right now nationally to stop people from smoking. If you are so stupid that you’ll put a cigarette in your mouth right now and wreck your lungs, then I would rather take the money that’s being spent there to put a message out right now that our children are being exploited, raped, and sent around this planet, and you…really… If we can’t get to an understanding and get that in people’s faces, so much so… I hate the commercials that they have been running, you know, where you have the people who are in the hospital on the third lung, and they’re showing me all the body parts of people who are ravaged by cancer because they are smoking. I want to show people the ravaging of what’s been happening with our children – get it in your face so hard that you say, “Enough, don’t show me that anymore!” and you do something about it.
Tim: I love hearing this, Montel, because a confusion to me is why are we not seeing that, even in politics and in debates. It should be… I mean, this is the fastest criminal enterprise on the planet. Why aren’t we talking about it? What’s the reason, do you think, that people are shying away?
Montel: Why is it growing so fast? Why is it growing so fast? Tim, I bet you, man, you’ve got this, man. Look, it’s growing so fast because of, I think, money. You know, we have the largest disparity of wealth in the world, but we have the largest number of millionaires, uber billionaires, millionaires, hundred… guys, people who have wealth, sitting around, that think that their wealth can hide them and keep them hidden from the truth. It got to be because dude, I mean, you know, the plane tickets cost money. To be able to buy a child, it costs money. You know, to be able to do this and not have anybody catch you: it costs money. And that’s what’s happening. And so why aren’t politicians talking about it? I don’t want to be a pig when I say this, but maybe some of them have friends or relatives or cousins that they know are the people doing this. Because that’s the only reason why this would not be… You know, it’s like all day long – I’m out here, I went snowboarding today, you know. This is the open season and it’s a beautiful day today, but then I realized I had this interview to do with you, and all afternoon I’ve been like…it’s been, you know, my heart’s pounding because I’m just so angry. And it’s just the same reason why, in the last three weeks, why all we keep hearing from our politicians is how quickly they want to send another American child off to die. They really…they want to go put ‘boots on the ground, boots on the ground,’ – you can’t even pay for the health care for the ones we have that have already put the boots on the ground!
Montel: But we want to put them on the ground. And yeah, we may need to, but let’s be a little bit more compassionate in our rally to send them off to battle. Now, if we’re willing to do that, and these politicians are jumping up and down in every one of their debates to say those things, why do we not – in the same conversation and debate – talk about how are we going to help heal the delays in the treatment of those who have already served? We can’t say that because we know that we have…their friends are the ones who are part of the problem. So I’m starting to think that maybe that’s what’s going on. We’ve got too many people of wealth who are hiding, just the same way as we have terrorists who are living double lives as Americans. And we’ve got rich people who can afford to do this – living double lives – they’re right under the surface and we’re letting them get away with it. And I’m open Tim – you know. dude, I’m not afraid. I am NOT afraid. I will take that shot, my friend.
Tim: And we need you to take that shot – we want you to. And you know what we do. If these guys want to get into the market cause they want those kids, we meet them there and that’s where we can expose them. We meet them there – we’ve already done it dozens of times, hundreds of kids we’ve pulled out, over a hundred travellers or traffickers in jail… I think you and I were talking about this when we met over the 4th of July. It’s about shining those faces of those guys who are hiding – shine them everywhere, put them on billboards, make everyone know that you CANNOT hide behind your money. We will meet you in the dark place and we will expose you once you are there.
Montel: I’m telling you… Call them out – that’s what we’ve got to do. So, you know what? You know, it’s going to be holiday season, we’re going to take a little break, alright? I want to hit the ground running in January if we can figure out…like I’m working on some projects right now. You know, I’m working on a couple of projects right now that are media projects that… You know, if I do some things for some people, then maybe I can ask them to do some things for us. Let’s figure out a way then we can get something on the air – I mean, you know, ‘America’s Most Wanted,’ you know, whatever.
Montel: I got happy, I got tired. That did a lot of good in some cases because you did cover some of those cases of child abuse, but I really think that we need to have a steady stream – not just the TV show, but I’m telling you, like, I would love to right now in the middle of this live CNN… I’ve got CNN on and the second they go to commercial: bang-bang. I want to jump right to a commercial about a child that has been exploited – this is going on, and this is the guy who worked in Chicago at such and such bank, was a bank president, he lived in this neighborhood, this is his family, and you need to understand that this guy thought he was getting away with it, and he’s been doing it and now he’s crying like a stuffed pig because he’s in jail, and he knows that when we let him out in the population that they don’t like little child molesters like that, and while he’s crying like a piggy, he’s talking about the fact that he’s been doing this for the last 10 years and got away with it right beside you.
Tim: That’s right.
Montel: How could you let this person live next to you?! That’s the story that needs to be told, man.
Tim: Yes! Yes it is!
Montel: And I want to help you tell them.
Tim: And we need your help. We can get into the dark and shine the light, pull them out, but we need people like you to make it loud because we’re still learning how to do that. So we appreciate that.
Montel: Well, just the fact that you’re blogging right now, and the fact that people are going to tune in. Maybe they’ll listen to me today. They’ll say, I want to see what they’re going to do. Montel, please, what are you going to do? You know, this could be a regular from us. Let’s come together every couple of weeks and let’s talk about the plans that we put in place, the things that we can talk about. I also, you know, it’s like…you know, I think in some ways… I worked in intelligence my entire time I was in the military. I had top secret inside clearance – I can say that right now. I had one of the highest clearances that the military had at the time. I ran a couple programs. I get part of the problem that we are having right now when it [the military] looks at international terrorism. The problem is the fact that we keep giving out all the secrets. We keep telling them every level of encryption that we have the ability to break so they can find a new one that we can’t break. I don’t want to give them too much – I want to show America while you can complain all you want about the Taliban, you know…we’re going to fix that problem. You haven’t even blinked at trying to fix the real one. Let’s fix this one, because this is the one that’s going to destroy us from within. We can see the devastation now in children as they grow older and older and now have the revelation of what was done to them. Those are the ones that weren’t even trafficked.
Montel: So, you know, I mean, honestly, America’s got a reckoning. And, you know, we can’t put one… You know, it’s like, you know, do you pick the worst problem and put that first, or do you fix the problems you have? I say we go after both of them at the same time, and I think America has got the stomach for it. It just hasn’t heard the voice loud enough. And I have a voice of couple of people that I think might want to bring this forward as part of their national campaign.
Mark: I was going to ask you about that, Montel. I know, from your social feeds, you are a friend of Governor Kasich, and I about came out of my chair with glee the other night watching that debate, and I heard the words ‘human trafficking’.
Mark: And they came out of his mouth, and those words have not been uttered in a presidential debate, in the last couple of debates. I need to go to do a word cloud or something to find out, but he did it. And so, we have a little segment on our show, called ‘The Big Ask’ with a K. And, I have a big ask for you. I thought…you know, when I heard him say that, I was waiting for somebody to wax poetic and do something lofty on trafficking, but of course they went right back to Donald calling Jeb not powerful, or whatever his word was. So, here’s my big ask for Montel Williams: I want you, because I know you are capable and I’ll be probably in tears by the time you’re done, to picture yourself on the stage, cameras on you – it is Montel Williams’, ‘I want your vote for president, and my platform is human trafficking.’ Can you give me that lofty speech that will make me hear the music coming in by the end?
Montel: You know how they give you the highlights before the debates…
Mark: Yeah, get me fired up a little bit.
Montel: You know, maybe what I should say is that if right now we are living in a time in America where the entire focus of the nation…in some ways, I understand, because there has been enough fear-mongering to make us believe that the entire focus of everything we do as a government should be focused on terrorism. But, you know, America has to continue to survive, has to continue to grow, has to rely on its most sacred treasure, and that’s America’s children. Now, I don’t care what source you listen to, what side of the fence you’re on: Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal. It doesn’t matter. If you are listening to all of your pundits, they will tell you at worst case, worst case in this country today, we have probably, okay…twenty, forty, fifty, let’s say there might have been a hundred terrorists who snuck in – they are under the radar, we need to put money in finding them. I agree. But, excuse me, we have 1.5 million children who are victims in 2012 to human trafficking, and we know that 85% of them have been trafficked for sex. And these are children, American children. So, I say that that’s a million and a half lives that from this point forth will forever be changed, a million and a half a year. In fifteen years, they got 20 million children who have to as they grow to adults, as they’ve been saved, brought back into the society and trying to be contributing numbers to that society. I say we got the Taliban under control. I don’t care if it’s two years, three years – it’s thirty years. This is part of America’s structure, America’s fabric. So, I can stand around and argue about who’s got more money in the bank, who thinks that they are tougher at fighting bad guys who are trying to hurt us ideologically. I want to find out who’s tough enough to turn in their neighbor, who’s tough enough to fight the fight of saving and preserving America’s future beyond the next five years. So, 2.5, 1.5 million…on the other side of ridiculous. The United States alone should be in the position to raise enough money to impact this, and we will send money everywhere else in the world. We will fight everybody else’s problem to try to force something down on someone’s throat that doesn’t want it, and we are willing to protect America’s precious treasure right here. I don’t know… If you want to protect America’s treasure, vote for me, if you want to continue on this normal…pick the other guy.
Tim: You got my vote!
Mark: Montel 2020, baby! Woo!
Tim: I love it, I love it! And, now the good thing is that we are going to do something about this, and I hope we can have you back on the show many many times as we develop our plan and say the things we can. But let’s do this! We’re going to do this.
Montel: Let’s do it! Now, you got me to say publicly, I make it as a public promise, man. I’m working with you – we’ll get this done.
Tim: Awesome! We love you, man! Thanks so much!
Montel: Thank you, sir!
Mark: Montel for president, baby! You said, you know, the government is leading, but in terms of being loud about it, how often do you hear nationally-placed officials talking about human trafficking in prime time?
Tim: They’re not! And that’s where the leadership is lacking. There’s no strong leader in all of our potential leaders. It’s not even on their agenda and I don’t know why it’s not! I don’t think they all have friends…I mean, that’s an interesting point that Montel brings up – I don’t think it’s like they all have friends who are engaging in this kind of stuff. I mean, I’m sure some of them do. I think it’s a dark topic that no one wants to talk about. It hurts to talk about it.
Mark: It’s weird because governments usually… These guys will go on talk shows and talk about something then not do anything about it, but this is the opposite. It seems that they are legislating and making a little headway, but they’re not talking about it – it’s lacking the component that we hate the most, generally speaking, that is, the flapping gums of politicians.
Tim: I think the reason… It’s not that they don’t know…
Mark: Yeah they know, they just…
Tim: They know it’s an issue. Here’s why they don’t talk about it. Look, they’re pandering, they are all pandering to voters, right. They need voters to weigh in. So, I really do think this: if they believed that the voters knew what was going on, they would talk about it. But they are saying to themselves, why am I going to introduce a new topic? – relatively new, right. Why am I going to introduce a topic that’s not going to help me get elected because the electorate doesn’t know? And if they don’t know, they don’t care. So let’s talk about things that we know they care about. So our job, more than try to convert or try to influence these candidates or elected leaders to do something… I think our job is to light a fire under the people – the Harriet Beecher Stowe approach, where she lit a fire under the people. They read her book by the millions, and they said, “What is going on?! I didn’t really know – I mean, I heard of slavery, but I’ve never seen it. I’ve never travelled down there, in the South, and saw it,” and she lit a fire there. And then they got so loud that folks like Abraham Lincoln and others had to respond.
Tim: And the response ended slavery. So I really think a lot of this is exposing this issue, shining a light, letting the people see. When the people care, the candidates will care.
Mark: And, it seems like Montel… He’s one of those populist heroes in the last two decades – had a huge show in the 90’s, he’s got total social clout now, he’s moved kind of into this activist realm, and he’s got tons, his hands on tons of pods, but it’s that type of guy that can talk to big groups. And the talk show people – Oprah, Montel, you know, from the heyday of afternoon talk shows that would make people cry every afternoon…that would be, seemingly, a way to engage people. And he could be that guy.
Tim: Yeah. He’s going to be that guy. I mean, he’s that voice we are going to need. And he’s not going to be a ‘one and done interview’ – he is committed. I spent a couple of days with him, over the 4th… Man, I’m telling you he believes this. He believes in it, and he is going to help us.
Tim: He’s going to be instrumental.
Tim: This show is sponsored by one of my favorite companies on the face of the earth, Hylete. In fact, I’m wearing – let me stand up so you can see – I’m wearing Hylete shorts right now.
Mark: Those are really handsome.
Tim: I wear Hylete shorts pretty much every day, because here at the headquarters of Operation Underground Railroad is a CrossFit gym that is very fruitful for the foundation. All the money that we make in the CrossFit gym comes back into the foundation. So we’re grateful for the CrossFit gym, and we’re grateful to Hylete who’s been a proud sponsor, who’s been able to not only outfit some of our guys, but make some awesome contributions. They made an OUR shirt, Hylete OUR shirt – their clothes are designed for intense fitness, like CrossFit. They made a Hylete/OUR shirt that all the proceeds came back to us, and we’ve been able to make thousands of dollars, and we continue our partnership in the coming years. So thank you to our partners and friends over at Hylete. Buy their clothes, and go work out!