NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A former Army Green Beret is turning his passion for fighting terrorism overseas into a fight against child exploitation and human trafficking right here at home.
“Operation Light Shine” was born from the painful tragedy, with the founder, Matt Murphy, using his grief to help save lives.
The reality is — it’s tough to hear.
Across the world, more than 40.3 million people are trapped in slavery. One of four of those victims is a child.
“It’s just pushed under the rug, now it’s a virus spreading like wildfire throughout the world,” Murphy said.
Some turn a blind high to the horror of child exploitation and human trafficking, but Murphy is facing it head-on after his sister was taken and killed in 2019.
“She just disappeared picked up by this guy scum of the earth,” Murphy said. “Months later her body was found in a river in Mississippi.”
Now, Murphy is working to make sure this never happens to anyone else, adding that human trafficking and exploitation are absolutely out of control. It’s even happening in Tennessee.
Patrick Falute of Franklin was an IT technician who worked for a major corporation and ran one of the largest Dark Net child sexual exploitation sites in the world. He was sentenced in 2017.
However, local investigators say the U.S remains one of the world’s largest creators of child sexual abuse material.
“The majority of child exploitation material they find on the internet is of toddlers and 84% of that is sadistic in nature,” Murphy said.
Whatsmore, Murphy says for every human trafficking case that’s actively being investigated that comes into the police there are 1,000 more.
The unimaginable statistics are Murphy’s motivation for “Operation Light shine.”
“Thanksgiving morning, we rescued a local girl from behind sexually abused.. it was pretty cool,” Murphy said, getting emotional.
The organization is bringing local law enforcement, prosecutors, victim services and medical professionals together to fight the issues head-on.
“We in no way influence police they have the authority they do their job we just say what do you need,” Murphy said. “The technology, the equipment, the things the police really need to be effective in saving children is expensive.”
So Murphy’s organization is funding resources required to conduct investigations, plan and run operations, identify and rescue victims, educate parents, process and analyze data all to serve Middle Tennessee.
Murphy says it’s up to us to listen, watch what’s going on and speak up if something’s not right.
“Is on us as adults to stand together and stop our kids from being hurt,” Murphy said.
In the next five years, Murphy hopes to place an Operation Light Shine task force in every state.
If you would like to donate or get involved, click here.