Unleash the Swarm Part 1: How the Swarming Technique Can Eradicate Human Trafficking within the Seven Pillars of Society.

swarming birds

Unleash the Swarm Part 1: How the Swarming Technique Can Eradicate Human Trafficking within the Seven Pillars of Society.

100,000 children are sexually trafficked every year within the United States of America (Allen, 2010). In the Seattle area of residence, where I call home, 300 – 500 documented teenagers will be sexually trafficked every night (The Genesis Project, 2015). How does society even begin an attempt to confront this horrifying problem within our communities across America? How do we fight such a behemoth?

I believe the answer lies within a well known military tactic, which can be adapted to the abolitionist cause, known as the Swarming Technique.

This blog post’s purpose serves as an introduction to an eight part series in which I will expand upon the adaption of the swarming technique within the seven pillars of society discussing strengths, weaknesses, and practical applications for readers.

What is the Swarming Technique?
“Swarming is a battlefield tactic designed to overwhelm or saturate the defenses of a principal target or objective” (Wikipedia, 2015, n.p.). Swarming techniques are used when the enemy has a bigger military advantage while opposing military forces are substantially weaker. To counter this military might, the weaker forces use overwhelming numbers to relentlessly assault the more powerful enemy eventually wearing them out, dividing their might, and conquering.

The History of Swarming
“Many examples of military swarming at the tactical level come from the ancient world and the Middle Ages” whose technique was adapted from the observation of the insect world (Edwards, 2000, p. 13). Many of us have viewed a nature documentary in which a giant ant colony takes down some other deadly insect ten times larger than themselves and in some cases animals too that are posing a threat. Some of the most well known swarming techniques were used by mounted archers of the past “[including] the Scythians, Parthians, Huns, Avars, Bulgars, Magyars, Turks, Mongols, and Cossacks” (Edwards, 2000, p.13).

In discussing the swarming approach to warfare within his book entitled Swarming on the Battlefield, Edwards (2000) shares a story about how the Parthians were able to overpower Alexander the Great by luring him into an ambush, surrounding his soldiers with mounted archers, and then saturating the soldiers with numerous volleys of arrows. Due to Alexander the Great’s military might of the Iron Age, his defeat under the Parthians proved a titanic blow to the confidence of his military as well as physical damages.

So how does this military tactic of warfare apply to the antihuman trafficking movement?

Simply stated: I believe a united front of nonprofits, religious organizations, and community activists can use this same tactic of swarming to defeat the behemoth problem of human trafficking by swarming the seven pillars of society simultaneously.

What are the Seven Pillars of Society?
The phrase Seven Pillars of Society was first established by Os Hillman who also refers to them as the Seven Cultural Mountains. Hillman (2015) states that to bring about change in a society, these seven pillars must be individually conquered and changed internally to bring about a grander overall change. Hillman (2015) identifies these seven pillars as business, government, media, arts/entertainment, education, family, and religion. Below is a broader explanation of each pillar.

Business – refers to the private sector of employment including corporations, employees, consumers, and producers of material goods or services.
Government – refers to elected officials, elected offices, law enforcement, military, social services, laws that govern towns, states, and the nation, and any other service instilled by the government of a country.
Media – refers to print/digital news outlets, bloggers, news anchors, talking heads, and any other influential medium by which individuals obtain their news.
Arts & Entertainment – refers to the music and film industry, video game industry, authors, painters, photographers, and any other artistic medium used to entertain individuals. Arts & Entertainment also focuses on the role individual celebrities play within the context of their artistic medium and the influence they have over the population.
Education – refers to preschool, elementary, secondary, colleges/universities, and the curriculum they teach. Education also examines the relationship between teachers, principals, superintendents, professors, and how they manage to administer education to their students.
Family – refers to family unit consisting of parent(s), children, extended relatives, foster families, adoptions, and/or all other relationships within the family structure.
Religion – refers to the religious/philosophical communities within cities, their leaders, and the impact they have within the cities.

Now that the mission field is understood, in later posts I will examine the seven pillars more in depth individually in blog posts two through eight, later this year.

Drawbacks of the Swarming Technique
With every method of solution to a massive problem, potential weaknesses arise that must be addressed, countered, and adapted to if the purposeful solution is to succeed. Alexander the Great had to develop such a countering technique to the devastating losses he was suffering under the onslaught of the Parthians. How could Alexander the Great counter such warfare from what appeared to be innumerable numbers of enemies constantly harassing his forces? The answer lies within counter-swarming techniques, which also identifies how antitrafficking movements can counter swarming techniques offered by organizations, policies, and leaders within the seven pillars of society unwilling to address the atrocities of human trafficking and how they play a role in the process.

In the battle against the Parthians, Alexander the Great used his cunning to inflate the egos of his enemies. Dividing his forces into two groups, Alexander the Great used a small phalanx to lure the Parthians to attack him once more knowing that the Parthians would saturate the smaller phalanx with mounted archers. Blinded by their past victories, the Parthians took the bait and began to overwhelm the phalanx. Once the Parthians were drawn out, Alexander the Great surrounded the Parthians with light cavalry and used a cyclical rotation pattern to squash the Parthians. The smaller phalanx would rotate in a counter circle, pushing the Parthians into the rotating light cavalry. The light cavalry would then force the enemy into inescapable terrain and finish them off. Thus the Parthians’ swarming technique was defeated.

Learning from Our Mistakes
So what does this mean for nonprofits fighting human trafficking? If the swarming technique can be defeated, why bother employing it as a method? Because the swarming method continues to work; it is what the leaders in the seven pillars of society, whom refuse to confront the human trafficking problem within their pillar of influence, continue to use to thwart any grassroots change that must occur to transform our society. By employing swarming and counter-swarming methods against the behemoth problems within the seven pillars of society, communities can begin the restorative process of making their communities safe again and thwarting trafficking from occurring within their neighborhoods.

Below are four general actions I believe can be employed within each pillar of society to bring about this grassroots change needed in our community.

1). Use the overinflated egos of toxic organizations, faulty policies, or stubborn leadership against their influence within a select pillar of society. Research and data will be heavily used in this method followed by methods needed to sanitize the issue and remove the emotionalism that is rampant within current social injustice movements. Many of the leaders and organizations within these spheres will most likely be used to the idea of “too big to fail” so applying swarming pressure against them on multiple fronts will catch them off guard.

2). Establish unification of purpose and goals within the abolitionist coalition within each community. “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” To the Christian, this passage of Scripture is well known in structuring church communities but this simple statement in Mark 3:25 (NIV) is also applicable to the antihuman trafficking movement. Nonprofits, religious communities, and activists must unify under a banner of purpose and goal. All these different community groups bring different strengths and perspectives vital to tackling the human trafficking problem. We must learn to glean the wisdom of each others’ experiences and teachings and then apply it as methods that produce results. Like the human body, when one part of the community suffers it effects the rest of the community, too.

3). Concentrate swarming tactics on specific areas within the seven pillars of influence. If possible, conduct this approach on multiple fronts. This tactic can be applied to a single pillar or multiple pillars at once; the key to saturation success is for the community to continue to apply increased pressure upon the seven pillars of society to force change.

4). Create a contingency plan to counter opposing swarming tactics. When countered with trafficking supporters (whether they be through individuals, actions, or policies), the unified force of abolishments must divide and conquer specific targets through swarming. Examples of these targets could be pressuring elected individuals who do not support passage of antihuman trafficking legislation, showing up in overwhelming numbers for political/community protests, boycotting businesses/products that use human trafficking labor as a means to produce a good or service, and engaging in spreading awareness within the community. These different tactics used simultaneously or in a continued rotation pattern would create enough countering pressure to produce change within the specific pillar of society.

Though this blog post is just an introduction to one of many methods applied to the antihuman trafficking cause, the most important information I hope you glean from this transcription is the ability to develop a method that produces physical/measurable results as well as being able to replicate it in individual communities. Based upon my observation of antihuman trafficking activism within the Seattle area, swarming appears to be the best method of application whether in part or whole. In the next blog post I will discuss application of swarming in regard to influencing the societal pillar of business.


Allen, Ernie. “Testimony of Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.” Testimony, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives. Washington, DC, September 15, 2010.
Arquilla, John, and Ronfeldt, David. “Swarming and the Future of Conflict.” RAND | National Defense Research Institute, 2000. Accessed July 8, 2015. http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/documented_briefings/2005/RAND_DB311.pdf
Bonnybbx. Flock of Birds Swarm Mountain. Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/get/8abfd08e731a97d02474/1440016401/flock-of-birds-392676_1280.jpg?direct (accessed August 18, 2015)
Edwards, Sean J. A. “Chapter Three: Historical Cases.” Swarming on the Battlefield, 2000. Accessed August 11, 2015. http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monograph_reports/MR1100/MR1100.chap3.pdf
The Genesis Project. “The Problem.” http://genesisnow.org/the-problem/ (accessed August 18, 2015)
United Nations Office of Drug and Crime. “North America.” Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2014. Accessed August 18, 2015. http://www.unodc.org/documents/human-trafficking/Country_profiles/North_America.pdf
U.S. Department of State. “Country Narratives: T-Z and Special Cases.” Trafficking in Persons Report 2014, 2014. Accessed August 18, 2015. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/226849.pdf
Wikipedia. “Swarming (military).” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swarming_(military) (accessed July 8, 2015)
Hillman, Os. “There are 7 Mountains of Influence in Culture.” http://www.7culturalmountains.org (accessed July 22, 2015)


Could you help a human trafficked victim with the push of an app on your smartphone? Yes.

cell phone

Could You Help a Human Trafficked Victim With the Push of an App on Your Smartphone? Yes.

You’re driving back from your favorite restaurant and it’s late at night. While passing through the downtown university district of the city, something catches your attention. The area is known for late night parties from frat houses and sororities as well as some adult clubs nothing uncommon for the area…but then you see her. You know she’s a prostitute by the way she is standing on that corner trying to solicit her services.

Something is unsettling in your conscience. This girl is way to young to be hanging on the streets at night. There is no way she’s in college. She looks no older than a freshman in high school…possibly younger. Then you watch as two shady gang members exit a vehicle and somewhat force her into another car. You even catch a glimpse of other scared girls in the back seat matching her age.

Some form of righteous indignation begins to burn in your soul as you realize this is a sex trafficking scenario happening right before your eyes. But what can I do, you think? Knowing a bit about the gang activity in the city, you discern these individuals are dangerous. What can you do? Before you can call the police, the cars speed off as quickly as they arrived. Guilt settles within the deep recesses of your conscience as you realize you could not do anything about the situation.

But what if you could…

What if with a simple push of an app on your smartphone you could have helped her? What if you were able to snap a photo of the girl, the vehicle, or even the gang members as they passed and could send this information directly to a police officer? What if this app would alert all forms of law enforcement of the human trafficking scenario occurring right that instant? What if this app would also alerted a series of nonprofit organizations within the area specializing in a range of rehabilitative services to place this victim upon rescue? What if this app could verify at least one of these nonprofits had a place for her to stay that night? Maybe short term? Maybe long term?

Like the Amber Alerts we receive through social media and text messages, Redlight Traffic’s smartphone app seeks to emulate this same viral response for human trafficking victims. “We empower victims to become abolitionists. We use technology to create tools against human trafficking” (Redlight Traffic a, 2015, n.p.).

Traveling to Redlight Traffic’s website, the user is immediately given the basic tools of knowledge to identify a trafficking situation and can read blog stories from real victims. What would happen if the majority of the American population was equipped with this knowledge? We could see a titanic reduction of victims. Let’s do some math!

In December of 2014, the United States of America’s population was totaled as 320,087,963 (United States Census Bureau, 2015). According to The Statistics Portal (2015) it is projected that 39.5% of the population uses/will use an iPhones from Apple. In that same group of statistics, 7.4% of smartphone users use Windows as their operating system (OS) (The Statistics Portal, 2015). Combined, Apple iPhone and Microsoft Windows smartphone users total at 46.9%. Of the population census from December of 2014 that’s 46.9% of the population or 150,121,254 people with the ability to report a potential human trafficking scenario taking place. That’s awesome!

With these projected numbers alone, almost half of the United States’ population will have the ability to become the eyes and ears of the community looking out for potential human trafficking situations. We become the digital neighborhood watch for our communities we care about.

Let us discuss the other side of the market: Android OS users. Android users account for about 50% of the remaining market. Just think about it: 96.9% of the United States population or 310,165,236 people could become active trafficking reporters. Just think of all the data that could be accumulated by police to rescue victims and provide prosecution of the traffickers.

“There is still very limited information on the scale of trafficking, how it works, and the most effective means to halt it. One of the biggest knowledge gaps lies in the area of data collection. Despite the growing literature on trafficking, relatively few studies are based on extensive research, and information on the actual numbers of people trafficked remains very sketchy” (Laczko, 2002, para. 3).

Real time data of human trafficked victim numbers, areas of high trafficking rates, and follow up studies on reduction are just a few examples of critical data missing from the antitrafficking solution. With the information gathered from this app alone, vital resources could be managed more efficiently in targeting higher rate areas and identifying which social services should be added in lacking areas. The plethora of data could be shared by law enforcement, nonprofits, and the community to even estimate where future trafficking crimes may take place. The application of this data is endless in what the antihuman trafficking movement could apply it to but more importantly, the antihuman trafficking movement will finally gain real time data on the problem domestically in the United States of America.

If you are an iPhone or Windows phone user, download this app and join the abolitionist movement to end domestic trafficking. If you are an Android user, help fund Redlight Traffic to continue in making development for this market come true.


Hodan, George. Message for You. http://www.publicdomainimages.net/view-image.php?image=31233&picture=message-for-you (accessed July 1, 2015)
Laczko, Frank. “Human Trafficking: The Need for Better Data.” Migration Information Source (2002). Accessed July 3, 2015. http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/human-trafficking-need-better-data
Redlight Traffic. “How It Works.” http://www.redlighttraffic.org/app/index.html (accessed June 27, 2015)
Redlight Traffic. “About: Our Mission.” http://www.redlighttraffic.org/about.html (accessed June 28, 2015)
The Statistics Portal. “U.S. Smartphone User Share from 2010 to 2014, by Operating System.” http://www.statista.com/statistics/201207/us-smartphone-user-share-since-2010-by-os/ (accessed June 28, 2015)
United States Census Bureau. “U.S. And World Population Clock.” http://www.census.gov/popclock/ (accessed June 1, 2015)

Dangerous Romeos: How Parents Can Recognize if Their Daughter is About to Be Trafficked.


Dangerous Romeos: How Parents Can Recognize if Their Daughter is About to Be Trafficked.

He was charming, debonair by all standards, and provided her that dreamy fairy tale-like romantic relationship. Maybe in the back of her mind she had questions about how an older guy would be interested in her, where he got the money for cell phones, a flashy car, and clothes, but she shrugged off these thoughts. He bought her lavish gifts, promising her the world even though he was a bit controlling at times but again she shrugged off these thoughts. One night, they both attended a local high school party where she was led upstairs and sold to trafficker. Her romantic beliefs were betrayed and shattered at the realization she had been incarcerated into sex trafficking with no means of escape.

Reading this terrible story, you may think “this can’t happen in my family” but believe it or not this is one of the most common experiences of teenagers trafficked within our communities across the United States of America. In the Seattle area alone, 300-500 teenagers (King County, 2015) will be exploited tonight with many of them just regular teenage girls from families like yours. Even the King County police state their “experience suggests that this [number of victims] is an under-count” with data from multiple trafficking awareness organizations expressing the number as far greater than recorded (King County, 2015, para. 14). These Romeos are often the link between the victim and trafficker and must be confronted to end trafficking exploitation.

What are Romeos?
Romeos are individuals selected by traffickers to lure girls into false romantic relationships all for the purpose of handing them over to a trafficker. Romeos exploit their victims through compliments and lavish gifts to win the trust of their victim. Rissman (2014) states that “eventually, the sweet talk will likely turn into manipulation, and physical and emotional abuse. The girls are often forced to sleep with clients, and will likely face serious violence if they refuse or threaten to leave their pimps” (para. 2). These ravaging Romeos are disgustingly financial compensated by other traffickers for their services in befriending teenage girls and luring them to traffickers.

They often work with Guerilla pimps and CEO pimps in this tyrannical trafficking triad as the gatekeepers to the operation. Guerilla pimps use physical violence and threats against the victim and her family to keep her in captivity while CEO pimps manage the situation entirely. (Sowers Education Group, 2015). CEO pimps use their trafficked victims like goods in a business, selling to the highest bidder (Sowers Education Group, 2015).

Where do they hang out?
Malls, bus stops, skate parks, community events, parks, high school football games, youth groups, just to name a few. The list goes on and on but wherever teenagers gather, a Romeo may be watching and waiting for an opportunity to emotionally prey upon your daughter. There have even been some accounts in which CEO pimps are recruiting Romeos still in high school and using their influence within the schools to traffick girls.

Recognizing the Signs of a Trafficking Boyfriend:
Is you daughter keeping the relationship a secret? Maybe she’s not concealing the whole relationship but does she become argumentative or defensive when you ask about the individual? Does the boyfriend avoid talking to you as the parent/guardian or wanting to get to know you at all? Often young teenagers will feel emotionally flattered to receive this kind of romantic attention from an older male and may do what she can to keep the relationship a secret.

Is she dating an older guy? Possibly through social media? Given the plethora of social media applications and websites teenagers frequent in our age, traffickers are heavily recruiting victims via this technology. Traffickers will also research the victims personal information like residential addresses, phone numbers, parent’s places of employment, sibling schools, daycares, and after school programs displayed on her profile as a means of lethal leverage against her family and friends. Often this is in threats of violence to these family members or friends if the girl refuses to comply with the pimp’s requests.

Does your daughter’s boyfriend display uncommon wealth for an individual his age? This may include flashy cars, the latest technology and gadgets, and designer clothes. Maybe the boyfriend comes from a rich family and this could account for the extremities of material possessions; but regardless of this possibility, parent’s discernment is needed to determine if this is excessive materialism of a teenage boy from a wealthy family or signs of a Romeo.

Does the boyfriend provide something she is lacking? Romeo pimps often use emotional manipulation to gain the trust of their victims. Compliments not received from critical households, basic living supplies given to a girl from a poor family, and spending time with the victim who does not receive attention from workaholic parents are just a few common examples they exploit. The Romeos sole goal is to win the trust of the teenage girl and he will use whatever flattery needed to accomplish the task.

Practical Application
“Exploitation starts with girls born without resources and[ AND/OR] without a support network.” (Rissman, 2014, para. 9). Either case is both equally common and transcends income spectrums. Both low, middle, and high income families are at risk.

Maybe you are a parent: single, married, or divorced, and after reading this article have identified some areas of work needed in your own relationship with your daughter. Do not dwell upon mental chastisement of yourself about past mistakes but use the time you still have left to reconnect and reconcile with your daughter. Your act of change may be the deciding factor in whether she listens to you or the false promises of a Romeo as he cares nothing more than to line his pockets with cash at the expense of sexually exploiting her.

Know who your daughter is dating. Will this be met with much resistance from her? You bet ya. But as a parent/guardian, you provide the first and most critical defense against traffickers by being involved in your daughter’s life, especially in screening who they date. Know who your daughter hangs out with and know their friends’ families. Knowledge is often the key to all of this; learning the signs of a Romeo and training your daughters into recognizing them is a titanic step in dismantling these gatekeepers of the human trafficking underworld. I highly encourage you to examine my resources and seek out additional information about how you can play a pivotal role in preventing trafficking within your neighborhood.


B., Milana. Heartbreak Picture. http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=64241&picture=heartbreak (accessed May 27, 2015)
Fisher, Mark. “Child Sex Exploiters Often Trap Their Victims by Posing as Valentines.” Oakland Sex Trafficking Examiner, February 6, 2014. Accessed May 22, 2015. http://www.examiner.com/article/child-sex-exploiters-often-trap-their-victims-by-posing-as-valentines
Government of the Netherlands. “Human Trafficking.” http://www.government.nl/issues/human-trafficking/romeo-pimps-loverboys (accessed May 24, 2015)
Hacker, Kristina. “ ‘Without Permission’ Shines Light on Local Sex Trafficking.” Ceres Courier, October 8, 2014. Accessed May 22, 2015. http://www.cerescourier.com/m/section/11/article/4453/
King County. “Help Stop Human Trafficking.” http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/injury/humantrafficking.aspx (accessed May 24, 2015)
Rissman, Jason. “Interview: Prosecuting Romeo Pimps, a Perspective on Women & Girls’ Safety from Two Former Prosecutors.” OpenIDEO, March 7, 2014. Accessed May 24, 2015. https://openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/research/interview-prosecuting-romeo-pimps-a-perspective-on-women-girls-safety-from-two-former-prosecutors
Sowers Education Group. “Pimp Tactics 101.” https://sowerseducationgroup.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/sowers-education-group-handout-pimp-tactics-and-signs-to-look-for.pdf (accessed May 24, 2015)
Shared Hope International. “Glossary of Trafficking Terms.” http://sharedhope.org/learn/traffickingterms/ (accessed May 24, 2015)
Van Dyke, Jonathan. “Psychological Warfare Propels Human Sex Trafficking World.” Gazettes, July 3, 2014. Accessed May 24, 2015. http://www.gazettes.com/news/psychological-warfare-propels-human-sex-trafficking-world/article_818524c0-02ef-11e4-8a32-001a4bcf887a.html