For Immediate Release

                                                                                                    Contact Todd Horton, (702) 827-3800




April 15, 2019

On April 11, 2019, Chief Operating Officer Andy Yu served as a keynote speaker at a launch event hosted by Ghost Orchid Coalition, Nashville’s first counter-human trafficking non-profit organization. The event was well attended. COO Yu spoke with participants to stress the importance of working together and combining resources to make a difference in the fight against human trafficking. COO Yu’s remarks follow:

Shining a Guiding Light Together

Good evening. My name is Andy Yu and I’m with Summit Brand Protection. On behalf of our CEO Todd Horton, I’m pleased that we will be partnering with Ghost Orchid Coalition to combat human trafficking in the Nashville area. Here with me tonight is Nick Horton, one of our communications officers from Summit Brand.

I recently retired as a federal agent, after working for 30 years as a U.S. Marshal, a U.S. Customs Agent, and as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge with Homeland Security Investigations. For the last decade and more of my federal law enforcement career, I worked to stop human trafficking, both domestically and internationally. I served as the National Program Manager for human trafficking with the Department of Homeland Security at our headquarters in Washington, D.C., shaping the agency’s national and international policy. I also served as the DHS Attaché at U.S. Embassies in Asia and Europe, working cases that reached into Africa and the Mid-East. Collectively, I have worked the human trafficking issue in all continents around the world.

In working these cases, I found one of the most effective means of combatting human trafficking is through a multi-disciplined and multi-faceted approach. Individuals and criminal organizations run their illicit trade like legitimate businesses. By attacking the criminals on all fronts – from their supply chain to banking to personnel – we are able to more effectively shut down these networks and keep them closed for business. In 2017, Homeland Security Investigations identified and rescued more than 518 victims of trafficking, and initiated more than 4,000 criminal investigations into human smuggling and trafficking. But law enforcement cannot do this alone. And this is where all of you come in. In addition to working with law enforcement, we need to engage businesses and corporations – and the individuals who make up the fabric of our communities.

When we talk about human trafficking, we need to remember that the “products” that are being bought and sold by criminals are human beings. The victims are our brothers and sisters, our children, and members of our community. As such, we need to have a victim-centered approach. We also need to form strong partnerships with NGOs, businesses, government and civic leaders, and the community. This is the most effective way to shine a light on this problem, and to help rescue victims and deliver services to them in a timely manner.

As a field agent working human trafficking cases, and at the national level managing our agency’s program to stop this terrible crime, I saw firsthand that there a lot of good people out there who have the compassion and the empathy to help combat human trafficking.

But what I also saw is that these same good people don’t have the actionable intelligence, the training, and the resources needed to operate to their full potential. These are the key components necessary for administering a successful and effective anti-human trafficking program. Working with Ghost Orchid Coalition, Summit Brand Protection seeks to bridge that gap – to build a network of informed alliances which we can call upon for the services and support necessary to assist victims.

Increasingly, human traffickers are using the internet, and other forms of electronic communication, to lure victims, and then groom them to further their criminal enterprises. We must get ahead of this. We must work with organizations like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NMEC), and Internet Crimes against Children Taskforce (ICAC), to use available technology to detect and deter criminal activities in both the real world and the virtual one. We must stop traffickers in all phases of their operation – halting recruitment, shutting down safe houses, derailing their transportation systems, and stopping the threats and intimidation.

This is why we are partnering with Ghost Orchid Coalition, an NGO that is proactively working with all the stakeholders. Summit Brand Protection will help Ghost Orchid effectively utilize the latest technology, training and outreach to develop a core program that can adapt to the needs of the local community, and work with law enforcement to dismantle criminal organizations that trade human beings as commodities.

Human trafficking is not just a local issue affecting communities and businesses. It’s a worldwide problem that we need to work together to solve. Victims are trafficked both from abroad to the United States, and from here to foreign countries. Many human trafficking victims are forced into the sex trade, but some are trafficked for forced labor; both are forms of modern day slavery. By working together, we can free these victims and help them integrate back into their communities, ensuring their safety, and helping them live full lives.

In partnering with Ghost Orchid Coalition, Summit Brand Protection hopes to rescue the victims. We also will help law enforcement identify the individuals and organizations committing these crimes and bring them to justice. We want to break the cycle and stop human trafficking.

I thank you for your time this evening and hope you are able to support our efforts to combat human trafficking in the Nashville area.