Reserve Marine Lieutenant Colonel helps bust human-trafficking ring

| May 27, 2023

For one Marine in the Reserve, this was going to turn out to be a different drill weekend night. He noticed a girl acting out of the ordinary at a hotel lobby. This Marine, a law enforcement officer in his regular life, noticed the signs of human trafficking. He contacted the appropriate authorities, then followed the car that picked this girl up. He followed them to their destination. He provided location information to the authorities so that they could carry out the rescues, arrests and investigation needed for this case.

From Starts and Stripes:

“I came back from drill and noticed a young girl acting strangely and dressing out of place in and around the hotel lobby we were staying at,” the officer said in the Marine release. The Marine Corps did not identify the hotel. “The way she was walking back and forth, in and out, it almost seemed like she was hoping to be noticed by someone.”

The officer was familiar with human trafficking activity and the gang known as MS-13 from his law enforcement job. He said MS-13 members often brand their “human property” with a 13. MS-13 is a brutal criminal street gang founded by Salvadoran immigrants in Los Angeles in the 1980s, and it has grown into an international operation involved in illegal weapons and drug trade and human smuggling among other crimes, according to the Justice Department.

After some internal debate about what to do about the girl he saw, the Marine said he contacted the Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force, thinking, in part, about his own daughter of a similar age. He reported apparent MS-13 handlers nearby who kept “the girl in their sights.”

It would lead the Marine into a seven-hour operation with local police officers that ended in the discovery of “a handful of young teenage girls” and drugs in an Alexandria residence allegedly used by MS-13, according to the Marines.

“We constantly educate our personnel on how to spot and respond to suspected human trafficking situations,” said Col. John D. Cowart, commander of the Marine Corps Advisor Company A, the unnamed Marine’s unit. “I never stop reminding Marines that human trafficking often manifests as prostitution, and if Marines are against it, the criminals cannot win.”

When a car came to pick up the girl from the hotel, the Marine got in his own vehicle to pursue. The car took the girl to the nearby residence — a “ritzy condominium building in Alexandria.” On the phone with Human Trafficking Task Force, he directed law enforcement officers to his location.

The Stars and Stripes has additional information on this story.

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Good job, sir. He played it smart, called the right people, maintained a discreet surveillance, and relayed relevant information in a timely manner. And, it sounds like there was a happy ending. With regards to the MS-13 assholes, váyanse a la chingada!


Outstanding, Sir! When I was in TOG the first time, I lived at the intersection of N. Kings and S. Kings Hwy. MS-13 graffiti was commonplace and they’ve been an issue up there for decades. CTIP training (and the avid eye of a professional) worked in this case.


Bravo Zulu Marine!

Protecting the innocent is the duty of every true man.

As for MS-13, I would have no issue with a shoot-on-sight order.


Spot on, Brother Graybeard. Ya wanna sniff out and track down a bad guy, put a Devil Dog on the scent.

A Salute to you, Good Sir Marine!


Living out of a suitcase as I do, I can vouch that human trafficking is EVERYWHERE. At least the hotel/hospitality industry is at least trying to do something about it, at least with the major chains.

President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

One man CAN make a difference.

Old tanker

Outstanding job. You can put the badge away but the job still goes on.

President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

I hope the officer is able to maintain anonymity, otherwise he has a LARGE target (not Target) on his back. God bless and keep you, sir.