Success In the Field

This is what human trafficking looks like.

By | Child Sex Trafficking, Success In the Field | No Comments

The following post was written by Kyle Woods and Kyle Hartsock, detectives inside the Ghost Unit, with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office. Through their work investigating human trafficking cases, they use Spotlight regularly to aid in investigations. We’ve asked them to provide insight on factors that contribute to sex trafficking.

Until our unit started in 2014, our department had never investigated human trafficking (HT), not even on accident.  HT is unique because the victims usually don’t self-identify. Instead, you must find common factors in their life and behavior that can lead us to look further into the circumstances. Read More

Inside Human Trafficking Investigations

By | Child Sex Trafficking, Success In the Field | No Comments

The following post was written by Matt Blumenthal, a sergeant with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. Matt has been with the department for 23 years and is currently a supervisor at the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force. As a team fully dedicated to investigating human trafficking, they use Spotlight regularly to aid in investigations. We’ve asked Matt to provide insight on what goes into human trafficking investigations and outcomes.

I have two daughters (ages 16 and 18) and I cannot imagine what life would be like for either of them to fall prey to the traffickers that I encounter daily.

Not only have I seen the realities of human trafficking in my work, but I’ve seen two neighbors that I have known since elementary school fall into the life of drugs and human trafficking. It had devastating effects on the girls and their families.

This is the reality of human trafficking — it’s happening everywhere. Read More

Spotlight Helps Law Enforcement Identify Victims of Sex Trafficking Faster

By | Success In the Field, Technology For Good | No Comments

The genesis of Spotlight started after we conducted a sex trafficking Survivor Survey in 2012, seeking to learn directly from victims how technology was used throughout their trafficking situation.  We found that sixty-three percent of underage sex trafficking victims reported they had been bought or sold online. Armed with this data, we worked with our technology partners and law enforcement to understand how these existing digital footprints could assist law enforcement in faster victim identification.   Read More


Trafficking and Technology: A Cross-Sector Approach

By | Child Sex Trafficking, Partners, Success In the Field | No Comments

In the fall of 2014, our team went to Phoenix to present to the Arizona Human Trafficking Council. We shared a new tool we had just developed called Spotlight, that leverages machine learning algorithms and insight from officers in the field, and were prepared to train Arizona officers as some of the first users in the country.

This week, I had the opportunity to join the Council once again and provide updates on the incredible progress we’ve seen with Spotlight since our first meeting.  Today, Spotlight is used across the state of Arizona and in 47 other states, plus the District of Columbia.  It is being used by more than 2,000 officers nationwide and has helped identify over 300 victims of trafficking.   Read More


Collaborative Technology Aids Super Bowl Trafficking Sting

By | Child Sex Trafficking, News, Partners, Success In the Field | No Comments

On February 4th, I flew out to the San Francisco Bay Area to support our law enforcement partners in Super Bowl sting operations. In addition to other methods, officers used the anti-human trafficking tool we developed with Digital Reasoning, called Spotlight, to help identify victims and illicit networks. It was tremendously gratifying to come back to the Bay on behalf of Thorn and see our technology in action. Read More

Fighting Child Exploitation Through Intelligent Technology

By | Partners, Success In the Field, Technology For Good | No Comments

The following post was submitted by Tim Estes, CEO and Founder of Digital Reasoning, one of our technology partners. Digital Reasoning employs a machine-learning platform that automates the understanding of human communications.

In 2000, everyone was starting a business. The dot com bubble still looked like endless progress, there was talk about a whole new economy, and millionaires were funding companies with no products and very little experience. There was a lot of hype.

With this backdrop, I was a 3rd year Philosophy student at the University of Virginia thinking why is the software I use every day not able to learn? It was obvious to me that software would be better if every time I used it—it would learn.  Surely, someday all software would learn. And that was software everyone should own. I wanted to build that company. So I did. Read More

Thorn joins law enforcement, nonprofits to tackle human trafficking for Super Bowl 50

By | Child Sex Trafficking, Success In the Field | No Comments

Thorn will join our partners in the San Francisco Bay Area to support their efforts against human trafficking leading up to Super Bowl 50 this Sunday.

Major national events like the Super Bowl tend to bring about an influx of human trafficking victims supplied to buyers. In response, Bay Area law enforcement, organizations and service providers have teamed up to tackle the issue leading to the weekend by using an innovative, victim-centered approach. Read More

Sex Trafficking Sting

Seattle Sex Trafficking Sting Operation Targets Buyers

By | Success In the Field | No Comments

Earlier this month, local law enforcement and FBI in King County, Washington made significant gains in the fight against sex trafficking with an unprecedented operation that targeted illegal sex buyers.

Along with seizing The Review Board, the highest-used erotic review site in the Seattle Area, local police arrested 12 high-frequency sex buyers on charges related to promoting prostitution — a felony usually reserved for pimps and traffickers — and led to the closure of a dozen brothels. Furthermore, the operation guaranteed freedom for 12 women who had been trafficked from South Korea and forced into prostitution. Read More

Spotlight Tool Aids In Recovery of Child Sex Trafficking Victims

By | Child Sex Trafficking, Success In the Field | No Comments

Last week, the FBI led its latest nationwide effort to combat child sex trafficking, Operation Cross Country. Carried out in partnership with various state and local law enforcement agencies, Operation Cross Country IX helped identify 149 underaged victims of sex trafficking and 153 traffickers. Furthermore, 52 general buyers were also arrested for allegedly soliciting underage victims. Read More

Spotlight Tool Wins Cloudera Data Impact Award

By | Success In the Field, Technology For Good | No Comments

Thorn CEO Julie Cordua joined Bill DiPietro and Marten den Haring from Digital Reasoning for the presentation of Cloudera’s 2015 Data Impact Awards. We are proud to announce that the Spotlight tool has won the Social Impact award. The awards recognize achievements in Advancing Security, Affecting Social Change, and Driving Business Value with Data. We are honored that Spotlight has been recognized among technology experts, and humbled by the caliber of innovation recognized at the event.

“Social change is … occurring in a collaborative way across local and national, commercial and public sector organizations.” – Alan Saldich, vice president, Marketing, Cloudera Read More