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Crushing evil through AI technology

Former-CIA agent starts non-profit to equip LEOs with real-time human trafficking intel — for free!

DeliverFund flag photo.jpg

DeliverFund has worked with over 500 law enforcement agencies across the country, by either providing training or operational support.

On August 31, 1987, Ryan Vanluchene was playing near his home in Libby, Montana, when he was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered by a repeat sex offender. The murderer had recently been paroled from prison two years early due to good behavior.

One of Ryan’s friends, DeliverFund Chief of Operations, Shane Erickson, said Ryan’s death shaped his desire to protect the community and hold criminals accountable.

Shane started this pursuit of justice by becoming a local law enforcement officer in Montana. After five years on patrol, he moved into detectives. After another two years, Shane was promoted and took over as the investigation’s division supervisor. Shane enjoyed serving his community in rural Montana, but he longed to make a bigger impact.

Also living in a nearby Montana community was prior US Air Force Pararescueman and ex-CIA operative, Nic McKinley. Nic’s world travels made him no stranger to human trafficking. “I saw human trafficking happening when I was in the Air Force. I just didn’t realize exactly that’s what it was…And then at the CIA, once I knew what it was, I was seeing it happen everywhere.”

As Nic left public service, he saw a void between the international crisis of human trafficking and the lack of resources to solve these crimes. It was this gap that inspired Nic to found DeliverFund in 2014, where he continues to serve as the non-profit’s chief executive officer.

According to its website, “DeliverFund disrupts global human trafficking markets by combining uniquely qualified personnel with the best technologies and then leveraging them in new ways to reach and rescue victims of human trafficking.”

Both Nic and Shane have a deep respect for federal, state and local law enforcement officials. They recognize that only our law enforcement agencies have the authority to serve search warrants and make arrests. What law enforcement lacks is the technology, training and time to process the aggregate human trafficking data that is available on the internet.

Nic pointed out that there is a federal agency to investigate the illicit sales of narcotics (DEA) and the illicit sale of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms (ATF), yet all of these commodities have legal purposes and legal distribution channels. In contrast, per the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution, 100% of human trafficking is illegal yet no federal law enforcement agency is dedicated to pursuing these investigations.

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s website, “HSI has dedicated human trafficking investigative groups within its domestic field offices and participates in more than 90 human trafficking task forces nationwide.”

As a detective supervisor, Shane worked with ICE and the FBI on human trafficking cases, but they primarily focus their attention on the most vulnerable, infants and children.

I spoke with an investigator working on an HSI task force who confirmed that the bulk of their case work is crimes against children. When they do work adult human trafficking cases, it is usually a means to another end.

This leaves the burden of these crimes to state and local law enforcement officials.

Understaffed and underfunded

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), nearly half of all law enforcement agencies in the U.S. have fewer than 10 sworn officers on staff, 73% have fewer than 25 and 86% have less than 50.

Coming from the CIA, Nic assumed that American law enforcement had connectivity to share resources and information, much like the international intelligence community. He also believed that law enforcement had more access to training and technology. Nic quickly realized that law enforcement did not need more people to conduct surveillance and kick doors. They needed a technology hack.

How DeliverFund partners with LE

DeliverFund has worked with over 500 law enforcement agencies across the country, by either providing training or operational support.

When a law enforcement agency requests to partner with DeliverFund, Shane or another staff member can deploy to that region to assist with the initial operation(s). DeliverFund analysts will scour websites known to advertise illicit sex and cross-reference all information in DeliverFund’s AI-driven database known as P.A.T.H. (Platform for the Analysis and Targeting of Human Traffickers).

DeliverFund builds intelligence target packages for the operation. This gives law enforcement fresh, actionable intelligence to work. As law enforcement officials contact girls working illicit websites, they can send additional intelligence to DeliverFund to further analyze. This builds the law enforcement investigations and assists in making arrests.

DeliverFund is able to pivot its intelligence analysts in a matter of minutes based on the needs of law enforcement.

After law enforcement agencies feel comfortable with the work product, DeliverFund can provide their services remotely.

DeliverFund’s proprietary software also has a deconfliction function, so that LEOs in other jurisdictions will be alerted of overlapping investigations with other agencies. This assists with both investigative intelligence and officer safety. All of this is offered to law enforcement completely free of charge.

Protecting police officers

With real-time data, law enforcement officers know the identities of suspects, victims, associated vehicles and criminal histories. This allows LEOs to request more resources such as additional officers/detectives, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams, air/drone support, and/or K9.

DeliverFund’s AI technology is also protecting law enforcement investigators from further trauma. With their software, Pathfinder, investigators only need to identify their known victim once, and then they can toggle off the images screen. Additional images are blurred out as investigators mine additional intelligence. This significantly reduces the quantity of images that investigators are required to ingest.

Disrupting human traffickers

Both Nic and Shane acknowledge that law enforcement can’t arrest its way out of the human trafficking problem. “I could make every trafficker in the United States glow green right now and we don’t have enough law enforcement and we don’t have enough prosecutors [to hold them accountable],” Shane shared.

This stark reality led to problem-solving and new partnerships. DeliverFund developed working relationships with financial institutions, AirBnB, hotels, Uber, Lyft and airlines to further disrupt human traffickers. Shane said that if they don’t have the staffing to arrest the traffickers, DeliverFund works with these business partners to make it almost impossible for human traffickers to conduct business.

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When a law enforcement agency requests to partner with DeliverFund, Shane or another staff member can deploy to that region to assist with the initial operation(s).

In plain sight

But how big of a problem is human trafficking? Is this really impacting average Americans?

To put the problem into perspective Shane shared with me that, “Eighty percent of the human trafficking victims in our country are US citizens being trafficked by other US citizens. This is not an immigration problem. This is not another country’s problem. This is our problem.”

He also shared one of DeliverFund’s success stories involving a family. The parents were in the tech industry. A trafficker groomed their young son through the chat feature on a video game console. After a couple of months of chatting, the trafficker came to the boy’s neighborhood and convinced him to meet him outside. The trafficker abducted the boy and had him in another state within hours. DeliverFund was asked to help. They quickly located the trafficker and turned the information over to law enforcement. The next morning, law enforcement executed a warrant and rescued the boy.

More recently, DeliverFund provided their services at the Super Bowl in Las Vegas. They spent five days before the Super Bowl and five days after building intelligence reports and sending these to financial institutions and Homeland Security. In 10 days, DeliverFund provided 453 intelligence reports involving human trafficking in the Las Vegas area.

DeliverFund’s goal is to make sure that the human trafficking victims never need to take the stand to testify. Due to the overwhelming binary evidence in their investigations, most human traffickers take plea deals. At the time of this article, DeliverFund has a 100% conviction rate for traffickers who take their cases to trial.

What more?

As DeliverFund cannot be everywhere at once, the company started a new program called OL-X. This program is an opportunity for citizens to partner with local law enforcement to provide support to counter human trafficking operations in their community.

To join the OL-X program, citizens must obtain an endorsement from their local law enforcement agency stating they want to work with the individual or group of citizens.

Shane shared, “DeliverFund will then come in and give them the tech and the data to do what they need to do to be effective for their law enforcement agency.”

In addition to giving tech and data support to members of the OL-X program, DeliverFund wants to put human trafficking safety tools in the hands of every American. The company created the HT Safeguard app for OiS and Android platforms. HT Safeguard runs phone numbers and emails to help parents keep their kids safe. The app costs users $1.99 a month.

Users can run the information of soccer coaches, romantic dates, or neighbors through the app to see if there is any connection to human trafficking activity. Users can then click “Report Results,” tagging the data for future use by DeliverFund analysts and law enforcement.

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HT Safeguard runs phone numbers and emails to help parents keep their kids safe.

Funding through generous donors

DeliverFund is able to provide their free services due to generous donors who want to end slavery in America and around the world. DeliverFund generates additional revenue by selling merchandise, allowing followers to host their own fundraiser, and through the creation of Thrivers Coffee — an online coffee store that contributes all proceeds to DeliverFund.

Readers can learn more about DeliverFund by going to the company’s website.

Christopher Littrell is a retired law enforcement leader from Washington State. With almost 25 years of public service, he had the opportunity to serve as an Air Force security forces sergeant, patrol officer, gang detective, child crime detective, CISM peer support group counselor, SWAT member, school resource officer, patrol sergeant, detective sergeant and community services sergeant. Christopher is a survivor of job-related PTSD. He is a leadership instructor for the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. Christopher is the owner of Gravity Consulting & Training, LLC, and teaches leadership, emotional intelligence and communication skills. He and his wife co-host the Gravity Podcast with the mission of captivating audiences with perspective and support.