Central Texans travel to Ukraine border to fight human trafficking


WACO, Texas – As millions of women and children cross the Ukrainian border, a Waco nonprofit and a local detective are asking for their help.

Detective Joseph Scaramucci of the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office has earned a national reputation for his work against human trafficking.

His efforts have led to interviews on Investigation Discovery and Dr. Phil.

Her department partners with the nonprofit Waco Unbound, which fights human trafficking in central Texas and around the world.

“This is the best human trafficking partnership our department has had,” Detective Scaramucci said.

When Unbound leaders saw millions of people, mostly women and children, queuing to flee the country, they saw the vulnerability.

“Unfortunately, Eastern Europe already has terrible and very sophisticated human trafficking networks,” explained director Susan Peters. “So we knew it would be a very dangerous situation for women.”

Immediately, Unbound began sending teams to train aid workers in the field, and Detective Scaramucci decided to join. He explains what he has seen in recent days during a Zoom call near the Polish border.

“We are really talking about people who are in their most vulnerable positions. They don’t have a ton of cash with them. Everything they have is in a suitcase that they roll.

“There are a lot of moments that get stuck in your mind,” Peters said. “On the one hand, just the massive amounts of people. And it is cold. It’s rainy. It’s cold. Just imagine – what would it be like to quit everything?

The teams believe they have already been able to prevent multiple traffic situations along the border. They hand out cards that give advice in Ukrainian on how to identify and avoid human traffickers.

“They ask for the cards. They congregate. They’ve heard stories of potential traffic, so they know that’s a problem. They want to travel safely. They want to know what to look for,” Peters said.

In a moving moment, Detective Scaramucci even handed out McClennan County Sheriff’s stickers to Ukrainian kids who were excited to meet a real sheriff from Texas.

“I heard them say ‘Sheriff!’ and I was amazed. Supposedly westerns are a thing [in Ukraine]. John Wayne is one thing. I was so surprised.”

Unbound says they plan to continue sending teams to the Ukrainian border. If you want to help in this mission, you can visit their website: UnboundNow.org

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