Actress Laurie Holden has moved on from killing zombies on television to fighting sex traffickers in real life.
Holden became famous playing the civil rights lawyer, Andrea, on The Walking Dead and some of that zeal for defending the weak appears to have rubbed off on her.
Earlier this year, she took part in an undercover operation that resulted in the rescue of 55 sex slaves in Colombia, some as young as 12.
Holden was one of the few civilian volunteers used in the sting, officially named Operation Underground Railroad, along with an unnamed non-governmental organisation as well as the Columbian authorities. The authorities are said to have contacted Holden because they knew she had done similar work in Cambodia and Vietnam, though these were smaller operations than this.
Operation Underground Railroad was founded by former CIA and Homeland Security agent Tim Ballard who intends to continue missions around the world getting these girls out of this horrific practice.
When asked about her role in the operation Holden replied “I had a pretty good disguise, I had a wig and glasses. We pretended we were having a big bachelor party, so my role was the girlfriend of one of the rich Americans, so I kind of had to sell them and the traffickers on the idea that I was a party girl, that I was there to have a good time with the guys.”
When asked about actually being the party Holden said “When they first showed up, some of them looked really terrified. I talked to a few of them and asked them how old they were. Some were 12. Some were 13. Most were 14. One of the girls came in, embraced me, started to cry, then I started to cry. What makes me sad is that yes, we got four traffickers, and I hope they fry, but what makes me sad is that so many of these little girls, they don’t know any different. I know we did some good tonight. But I know that more needs to be done.”
“We live in a cynical world and there’s so much emphasis on money and success,” said Holden. “All that fame is great but, you know, why are we here? We have to protect those who can’t protect themselves and it’s not about writing a cheque. That’s great, but I’ve seen child sex trafficking first hand and I can’t get it out of my head, I’m just going to keep going until the day I die.”
This operation will be subject to a documentary called The Abolitionists and will document the rescue of these girls and the capture of trafficker Marcus Bronschidle.