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GreatMan Podcast: Fighting Child Trafficking with Aaron Spradlin of Mission America Foundation

Child trafficking is one of the greatest evils our society faces today. Fortunately, with movies like The Sound of Freedom in the spotlight, awareness is growing.

To further that mission, CEO and founder of the Mission America Foundation, Aaron Spradlin, joins JT McCraw and Anthony Flemons today to talk about his lived experiences rescuing trafficked children.

Listen in to learn how you can be a part of the movement against child trafficking. Listener and reading discretion is advised.


TRANSCRIPT: Reader discretion is advised.

INTRO: Males are born, men are built. This is the Great Man podcast, where we want you to build great men as you allow other men to build you. Join New York Times best selling author Stephen Mansfield, along with seasoned leaders of men, Anthony Flemons and JT MCcraw as we bring a wide range of experience and expertise to help you become the great man you are designed to be.

With you this week are Anthony Flemons and JT McCraw.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: Gentlemen, let us begin. So you have an anniversary.


ANTHONY FLEMONS: And you're getting ready to go celebrate.

JT MCCRAW: Yeah, man.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: How many years?

JT MCCRAW: 22 years.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: It's pretty amazing, actually.

JT MCCRAW: It's good. Yeah. It's amazing that I made it that long.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: Yeah. Without her leaving and walking out.

JT MCCRAW: No. Doing some harm.

Yeah, you're right, man. I mean, she is ex military. You shouldn't say ex military, right? Former. Former military. Former military. Yeah. Sorry. Yeah.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: But anyway, congratulations.

JT MCCRAW: Yeah, thanks, man. Appreciate it. Yeah. Today we decided to kind of take a turn a little bit because of the media attention on The Sound of Freedom, the movie that Jim Caviezel based on the life of Tim Ballard. If you haven't seen it, please go see it. We need to bring a lot of awareness to this issue. I happen to have a friend. Anthony is shocked that I have a friend that's involved in something. I have a lot of friends. We were actually sitting together this week and I don't know how long I've known you, Aaron.

AARON SPRADLIN: A long time.

JT MCCRAW: Yeah. And I didn't realize some of his background because he's so dang secretive about...he and I were just talking about I know that he deals with anti-sex trafficking. I do know that much. But then we just started talking about the movie and he was like, "Yeah, I used to work with Tim Ballard." And I was, "What!?" So he kind of told me a little bit of the background. I was like, "Holy cow, we have got to get you what are you doing Thursday?" Or whatever day I said he goes, "I'm going to be on your podcast."

So like, okay, you are!


JT MCCRAW: Because we do want to...this is a scourge on America.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: Absolutely. For sure.

JT MCCRAW: And just so you know, with what Anthony and I do outside of this podcast, we have met with a lot of men over the years that do have a porn addiction. And this is where it all begins. And one thing that my guest and I were talking about was, yeah, he goes out and rescues kids. He does a lot of good in this world, but really he has to do that because of the porn industry, because you got to have a product that people want in order for it to be as prevalent as it is. So it really does start with and we talked about a few. Things we'll talk about today. But our guest today is do you want me to say your full name?

AARON SPRADLIN: That's fine.

JT MCCRAW: Okay. I don't know how undercover...I mean. He's got a face for being undercover. Anyway, whatever. Aaron Spradlin. His foundation is Mission America Foundation, which basically I'll let him talk about it, but it really does focus on America because we are the number one consumer as far as child sex. So, Aaron, thank you for being here. It's a very delicate topic, but it's also a very nasty topic. It's a very evil topic. So I'll let you just kind of introduce yourself what your foundation is about, how you got into it, and whatever you want to say.

AARON SPRADLIN: Alright, well, thank you both for letting me come rap about it a little bit, because it's always been here. It's just more prevalent now. I'll int about the foundation for a second. The Mission America Foundation, founded two years ago with two focuses. And the first focus is we utilize former veterans from whatever branch as long as they get through the vetting process. And that vetting process, it starts with their soul, because you've got a lot of people with a lot of built up. It's toxic inside them because they don't have a purpose and a mission anymore. And so 22 suicides a day. If you look at the statistics that I think are a conservative number because it's a big world, people focus mostly on it being PTSD. But there's another piece of that.You take these men and women that have been trained in all these different things they do 4, 8, 20 years, they get cast out. "Hey, thanks for your time. Appreciate it. Bye." And they jump into this world that's no longer a world of honor or a world of purpose, and everybody's out to step on you to get up higher and dog-eat-dog and it becomes a really weighing thing on a lot of vets because they don't have any support out here.

AARON SPRADLIN: So that journey, I actually went through it and didn't even realize I was going through it the first time I got out, because I've been in twice. But the first time I got out, I was so angry at the world, and I didn't know why I was angry and it was because I wasn't around people like me. And it took two guys coming back from the war to give me that understanding.

When I got out of the military, I didn't know what to do with myself. I thought about being a cop, and then I went to Metro's interview, and I walked right out of there. And then I ended up selling cars for a long time, which was miserable to talk about dog-eat-dog, everybody's trying to skate you and take your money, and it's just a dirty internal business. And I was fortunate enough that I met a guy that was starting a new company that was military based, and he brought me on for business development. Now, I've started to be around guys like me, and I started to be a happier person, and I had a purpose, but I was in my world, and I was surrounded by people like me. So that was like 2003 when that really hit. And then I worked with him for six years, and then I wanted to go into the world of more protective services, which is what my business is, and bring in more people like me and surround myself with people like me and feed off of them. Right?

Then I was given a vision. In February of 16, God decided to tell me about this horrible thing called human trafficking. I didn't know anything about it. Like most Americans, we think it's Taken the movie or it's happening in other countries, other countries. It's not happening here. And in a very short amount of time, a path was shown to me, and I found myself working for Operation Underground Railroad, which is the founder of Operation Underground Railroad is the topic of the movie Sound of Freedom. And now I'm really around people like me, and we're doing something that, it's the most fulfilling thing in the world when you hear a freed child, I mean, even if you're in handcuffs, getting drugged out by the federal police, at least you can hear the laughter. And that's enough right there, because they don't have to be a part of it anymore.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: So you can confirm that Tim Ballard is a real person.

AARON SPRADLIN: He is a real, living, breathing human being.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: So that's trash that we're hearing, that he's not a real guy.

AARON SPRADLIN: Right, he's a figment of the imagination. No, he, I think he's got his wife and five kids and two or three that he's adopted through the process, and he's a real person.

JT MCCRAW: Yeah. It makes you wonder why people want to discredit him.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: It makes me really angry why people want to discredit him, because if you discredit him, it's kind of like discrediting one of the events with Jesus. I mean, you can kind of tear the whole thing down and you discredit this guy. He's not Alan-on that who they say…


ANTHONY FLEMONS: You know, you discredit him, and then all of a sudden you can go on to something else,

JT MCCRAW: Which makes you wonder…Well, Aaron's going to talk to us about that. And every time I sit down and talk to him, I'm literally shocked.

And to know, I grew up in a world, you know, the kind of world I grew up know, around people that thieves and killers and all this kind of stuff. So I'm used to that kind of activity. But when he talks to me and tells me that it's like literally around the corner from me, it's going on.

And in the next city, it's going on right here in Nashville. Man. I mean, I am just flabbergasted. I'm like, Are you serious? And he's like, oh, yeah.

AARON SPRADLIN: And usually what's crazy about that is I speak a lot on this around the state. I think I've been to 19 different meetings in the last year, and I always have somebody tell me that I'm lying. And I'm like, hop in the. Truck. Let's go. I'll show you where it is if you want to come see it.

JT MCCRAW: Which, by the way, to their credit, it almost makes me like they're not involved with it. So their mind can't even go there. So it's like, man, thank God there's people out there that go, that can't be true, because their moral compass is north.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: But you sit down and talk to Aaron for about 20 minutes and you look at everybody and you feel like they're involved in it.

Oh, yeah, because you start eyeing everybody like, what about him? What about him? It's pretty prevalent, man. It is very prevalent.

AARON SPRADLIN: And what's really in Tennessee alone, the biggest bust that's happened in the last decade was over near Knoxville, and it was May of 2016, 42 arrests, and the head of the trafficking operation was the youth pastor of the church.

JT MCCRAW: Wow. Pick your mouth back up, champ. Your mouth dropped way too far, I say that.

AARON SPRADLIN: You can Google that one. They don't hide it's there. And a lot of people went to jail, but the people that went to jail were firemen and council members and upstanding citizens in the that's that's the whole you know, I really get shocked if I talk to a church and I'm like, yeah, somebody in here does it.

Absolutely. Yeah.

One way or the other. Either you're the john or you're benefiting from it.

JT MCCRAW: So we mentioned that it's prevalent here in Tennessee. How prevalent is it? Is it in every county?

AARON SPRADLIN: Is it just unfortunately, it's been reported by the TBI, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, that 95 out of 95 counties have reported an incident under the age of 13 in traffic.

That is kind of shocking.

AARON SPRADLIN: Right. But if you look at the USA Today, they do this thing every year. Who's the best state in the country fighting child and human trafficking? And they do it through an A through F scale, and Tennessee got a B, which was the highest.


AARON SPRADLIN: So Tennessee, in essence, is the number one state fighting it. And we have that big of a problem.

JT MCCRAW: Oh, man. So you work for underground. The operation Underground Railroad. How did you come out of that? Because now you're doing it now maybe a little differently because you're focusing on America and those operations. You were in other countries, Peru, Colombia, wherever. You ran a couple of those operations for them. Yeah. How did you get from that to doing what you're doing now, which is your own Mission America Foundation, what was that transition?

AARON SPRADLIN: Well, I started to look at numbers, right? And realized us being the number one consumer as America as a whole, at least according to the global statistics, it's the Americans that are going abroad to do this, but that means they can do it here, too. So I started looking at the statistics in the United States. I'm like, I don't have to go to Honduras. I could go to Brentwood. It's a lot faster trip. Now it’s a whole different style of how. You have to operate. When O.U.R is doing their work, they're requested by the federal authorities, They're brought in there's federal prosecutors that you talk to to understand evidence and how you have to obtain it so that it is a prosecutable thing.

We don't get that here. So we're allowed to investigate and report it and get it to law enforcement. And that starts with, say, a runaway comes out on an amber or or something triggers us here, and then you may have a direction of travel and you work like, say, we think they're headed towards Chattanooga.

Well, if they're headed to Chattanooga, I know exactly where they're going to end up because it's like water and lowland, right? They need food, they need shelter, they need resource. If they have an addiction, they need the addiction. So they'll go to those areas. And there's one really prevalent place in Chattanooga. There's like six here in middle Tennessee. If you go to the west, Jackson is a place between here and Memphis that they'll settle. And every one of these things occur near an interchange.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: An interchange?

AARON SPRADLIN: Yeah, like interstate. Interstate interchanges. All of them are near an exit. Because one the reason Tennessee has such a problem is because you can get to 32 states in 8 hours. Our traffic system here we are the nation's interchange. You got 40, you got 75, you got 65 north and south. 81 will take you way up north. You have all of these highways. So it runs very similar to the drug trade because it's easy to get in and out and move and flow with just normal people on the highway when they're moving them from state to state. But back to coming here and I prefaced with the veterans principle to this.

If I'm going to go do this work, I'm going to do it with people I trust and people that I understand have a skill. Now, we don't just investigate. We have our S.A.F.E program, which is: SITUATIONALLY AWARE FUNDAMENTALLY EMPOWERED, teaching young ladies and young men how to be aware of the situation around them.

Because this happens to little boys, too. And I think it's 21% of the victims are boys. When you have the unawareness anymore that we have because of our cell phones and our tablets, you get caught up in what you're doing. And it's so simple for this to happen to you.

I could become a 14 year old girl right now on Facebook, right? I could start my own profile. I can sign into all of the games that the kids play. I can talk to them through that chat like I'm a 14 year old girl talking to a 14 year old girl.

They're so sophisticated in their operations. I'm talking about the people that are selling and stealing the children that they can tell whether you're an introvert, whether you're shy, if you're poor. They find whatever to exploit, but they keep doing it as a child, right? And then eventually, you become really close with that person through that social media conversation that, “Hey, let's meet for real. Let's have a play date. I'll bring my mom. You bring your mom, we'll meet here.”

So Mom's like, well, Mom's going to be there, I'm going to be there. Let's go. So they go to the park and let's call her Sally. Sally's there looking for her friend that she met online.

And mom sits down. She's on the playground doing whatever she's doing because of this silly phone. Mom looks down to check the latest Instagram or whatever, blah blah, blah. And she looks up and Sally's gone. Because the bad guy knows that mom's going to do that at some point.

At some point, just waiting on that moment for her to do the thing and whoosh.

JT MCCRAW: Snatch gone.

AARON SPRADLIN: But now it's not all kidnappings. There's runaways, there's families that are doing it with their own children. East Tennessee, we had a twelve year old that got rescued that came over here for restoration.

That grandma was pimping her for meth. Her own grandma, very young grandmother, but she was pimping her for meth. They're pimping them for rent. And then of course if you get them addicted, then they're going to do anything that they can to get it’s not the high that they want.

They just don't want to be sick, especially if it's heroin. So they just keep them high and they'll do whatever they want or whatever you want so that they can stay out of that.

JT MCCRAW: So you saw these stats. Obviously you've been a part of many operations here locally. What is it now that keeps kind of your fuel, your flame burning to keep doing this? Because I could imagine it's taxing mentally, emotionally.

Me personally, I can't imagine not killing somebody if I found them trafficking a kid. So I don't have the capacity or maybe the self-control that you obviously have. But what keeps you going right now as far as doing this?

AARON SPRADLIN: In order to do that, I have to answer with a brief story. So I get into it, right? I start doing it here. We get word of a missing girl out of Milan, Tennessee, which is north of Jackson. Now you're still kind of learning how to walk because you have to know your parameters of what you're allowed to do. Because people look and think, “Oh, you're just a vigilante group.” You're doing this, I wish we were a vigilante group, this would be a lot easier. But we're not. And so you have to carefully walk through the process of how to run an operation.

So this girl goes missing. You're still trying to figure out how we're going to do this.You work and call law enforcement. We go to Milan and we meet with the lieutenant and he tells us, he's like, yeah, she's dead, she's gone. She had been brought into a trafficking situation that it was very drug, lots of drugs involved. And one night she just disappeared. And they're like, they've taken her out, they've killed her, you're going to find her out in the bottoms of Memphis somewhere. And we left Milan and we went to Jackson. And the first weekend we have 15 confirmed sightings that she was alive, but now we're chasing.

She was in with a gang, a very prominent gang. And so we chased her for six months all over the place trying to find her. We would knock on every hotel door. We would go from Jackson to Memphis to Nashville because they move them.

And on October 22, 2019, I got a text from my boys in Jackson that told me they had found her, that they had found her murdered, and they found her head because they had decapitated her.

To answer your question, that absolutely broke mean in half. I lived in a bottle of Jameson for a month and a half. I had failed. And it just absolutely destroyed me. I get a little bit out of that funk and I get a phone call. We got a girl missing from Franklin—which is where I live—and I go meet with the family.

She's been in the NCIC as a missing person for over eight months. Nobody knows where she is.


AARON SPRADLIN: Yeah, it's the system, the acronym. Acronym. [NATIONAL CRIME INFORMATION CENTER’S Missing Person File]. And so we start working that. I'm trying to find her.

I'm trying to find her. Well, we get lucky and we found her over in West Nashville. Metro Nashville PD was 100% helpful in this. Now, see, I'm starting to learn a little bit more how this works? If you work the channels the right way. I'm on the phone with a detective.

I've got her location. Next thing you know, I'm behind the car. She's in a car with the pimp. She don't want to leave. Now, this is an adult, so there's rules, right? If she's a child, totally different rules. She's on her own. However, she had threatened to kill herself at one point, so she had what was called a detention order.

But you threaten to kill yourself, they can take you to Vanderbilt for 72 hours hold.


AARON SPRADLIN: We're chasing this car through West Nashville. I got eight squad cars and a helicopter that Metro has provided to get this solved, right? We pull into a cul-de-sac. Holy cow, I think I'm going to be in a gunfight now, which I can't be in a gunfight because she's there.

There's houses, there's so much backdrop. You just got to sit there and wait till they run out of bullets if they're shooting at you. But they didn't. They took off running through the woods behind these houses. Well, I've got the eye in the sky with the chopper. They track him down.

The cops get a hold of him. They let him go because he really wasn't doing anything wrong. He was running from me. He wasn't running from the cops. So there's no evading. He didn't have any drugs or weapons on him. She was there on her own as an adult.

They let him go. He's walking down the street. She is as high as I've ever seen somebody on heroin. She's in the squad car and even my first operation before I went because I didn't know how I was going to react when I was doing that in South America.

And I Asked God, I said, let me do the right thing. So with her, I said, “Give me the right words.” So I walked over the sergeant, rolled the window down for me. I said her name and I said, “You don't know me. I said, I know your father.” Now remember, she's high.

I said, “I know your father and I know your daughter and they need you home.” And she came out of the high and she started bawling just for a second, and she went back to being high. But there was a moment where I got through to her. Yeah. I had to go get her two more times because she kept going back to the heroin and on the third time she stayed home.

And now she's three years sober. She's an advocate, she's raising her daughter. She's just a beautiful young lady. That's great. The point to that is…that was the rebound that brought me the one from losing the one and

JT MCCRAW: You lose one you save one.

AARON SPRADLIN: You know the starfish, a million starfish on the beach all cooking in the sun. And little boy grabs a starfish and throws it in the ocean, he said “They need to be home or it needs to be in the ocean. You can't save them all. But I saved that one”. And that gave me perspective.

This is such a problem. I know we can't save them all.


AARON SPRADLIN: And I would love to be able to. It grows every day because of the evil of the earth.

I got in a political conversation the other day. I said, “This isn't left or right, this is good versus evil.” And it's saturating. And every time you push to go forward to fight, the devil comes and pushes you back harder.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: We've talked about this before over a cigar and a bourbon, man. But I want you to tell some of the listeners the cycle or the pattern that leads to a person indulging with a twelve or ten year old. And even you said it's five and six year olds. Adults are with just very young children as well. But can you explain in your assessment how a guy goes from being just a regular dude to expressing himself sexually like this with kids?

AARON SPRADLIN: In the early days, as bad as this sounds, you had two kinds of people. You had a pedophile and you had a sociopathic child predator.

JT MCCRAW: Isn't that a minor attracted person?

AARON SPRADLIN: Well, in some states…

JT MCCRAW: Yeah, minor attracted person, that's what they're calling it now.


JT FLEMONS: And by the way, not to be controversial, but that's BS. Yeah. That's a pedophile. Yeah. Hands down.

AARON SPRADLIN: Hands down. So a pedophile has a type, all right? You can fill a whole room full of children and if unless it's a blonde haired, blue eyed little boy, that's seven. You're never going to trigger that pedophile. Sociopathic child predator is like a crocodile. It's going to eat anything in front of it. So you had categories.

Well, now with the technology advancements and the instant access to whatever you want on the Internet, the porn has driven into a reprogramming of the brain.

Everybody's seen porn. At some point, I assume it starts off normal, a guy and a girl. And then they progress to something more aggressive, and then they progress to something more aggressive. And then at some point, they're going to get barely legal.

JT MCCRAW: And the reason they do that, it's like a drug, the dopamine hit. It doesn't do it for them anymore. Just to see a man and a woman, and they get a little curious about what else is out there.


JT MCCRAW: That's what you're saying is that's kind of the pattern. It's always, what else is out there that I can get a high off of? And then they get to the point what you just said was barely legal.

AARON SPRADLIN: Barely Legal. And they get to barely legal. And these girls in this are actually dressed young for whatever fetish that that fruitcake's got. And then you'll get an ad. And that ad will pop up.

JT MCCRAW: Because you've watched so much porn. The algorithm shoots you in an ad, and it's going to be directing you to…

AARON SPRADLIN: the next level, which is child porn.

JT MCCRAW: Yeah. Just think about this. I mean, this happens to us all the time. My wife and I can be literally talking about something, and I will get an ad for it.


JT MCCRAW: I didn't even have to go to a website or any we could just talk about it. It happened last week. So I'd assume that if a person is watching porn, that he's going to get all kinds of ads, which raises curiosity, which can be deadly, if not self controlled.


JT MCCRAW: And that's what you see.

AARON SPRADLIN: And then they get to the point where the dopamine is not enough from watching children with children, men with children, brutalizing children. Now it's a power thing. Now I need that power because there's something missing in the chemistry of that person that when that dopamine hits, it's filling that void, and it's giving them an empowerment.

And now they're going to figure out how they're going to do it. Now, I say this all the time. I won't give the number. It's memorized because I've studied it so hard. I could dial a phone number right now and order me a 14 year old to meet me at a hotel in Nashville under the guise of a body rub.

Because Massage Board regulates massage. There is no “Board” for body rub. So I call up, woman answers the phone. There's a call center here that they actually run this. “What do you want?” “I need a body rub.” “What do you like?” “I like tiny hands.”

I can code it all the way up till they know exactly what I want. And then how are you going to pay? Cash, crypto, credit card, whatever. And they'll deliver that child for you to have for an hour.

JT MCCRAW: In Nashville.

AARON SPRADLIN: And then once you start that, you just Keep going because you can't get enough.

JT MCCRAW: Because no, I don't think any person starts out going I'm going to be a pedophile. No. Because all of us have ended up in situations that we say how did I get here? Why am I doing what I'm doing? And that happens in small things and that happens obviously in a situation like this where a guy gets so addicted because does change the composition of the brain. We know that that it's almost as if he cannot help himself unless something tragic happens, like being caught. Or I've read where kids have died during those moments and now it really has screwed that guy or girl up.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: I want to ask you something, man, just in your personal assessment, man. Is there coming back from this kind of addiction, man? I mean, you see people go to 12-Steps and go to all these kind of centers and counseling and come back from addictions to coke and all these kinds of things. Is there coming back from this kind of addiction, man?

Once your mind gets so reprogrammed, can it be undone and you not have that same urge and attraction?

AARON SPRADLIN: Just my opinion, no I don't think so.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: That's the troubling thing about this for me, man. Yeah. Once a person is involved in this and they go down this rabbit hole and they get to this place where they're indulging in this thing, there's literally no way to bring them back.

Like they've been programmed into a different kind of being and it's just there. Forever.

JT MCCRAW: Yeah. I mean, look, as a pastor, I have to say there's always hope that a person can change. They're not going to be able to change on their own. And I do think this is where it takes faith because as a Christian and it speaks of this when we come to faith and accept Christ, we become a new creation.

That doesn't mean that we change overnight.


JT MCCRAW: That means that we have the possibility of being something new and different if we'll make the right choices and we're given the power to make those choices. Now, I'm not going to say that those urges ever go away. I don't know for sure.

But I think that you can control those. I do think that once you get to that point, it's very very difficult. I know I've helped a lot of guys that were addicted to drugs and I can see the pull on that as far as for years and years down the road they just struggle to not go back to that drug.

I remember one time being at a drug rehab and I went through this training and this doctor got up and he kind of for 3 or 4 hours gave us all it does to the brain and how to help addicts come out of that. It was just an amazing training.

And I went up to him afterward and I said, hey, the thing that I deal with the most is I have a lot of guys that are addicted to pornography and sex and stuff. He said, take everything that I just said and multiply it by ten. He goes, that's what you're dealing with.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: And when you marry them together…

JT MCCRAW: I just have to say it is possible. It's just extremely, extremely difficult and takes a very dedicated, hardworking self mastery in areas that it's mastering you.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: Yeah. Have you ever seen it happen? Come out of it?

AARON SPRADLIN: Anybody come out of it? No. But here's the thing, because well if you're caught and they put you in jail. You're done. Yeah. And so you never had the chance to come out of it.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: So let's talk about your organization just for a minute. Man. So what's the name? It's mission America. Mission America.

AARON SPRADLIN: Mission America. And you said something that struck me when you started talking about it. You said it starts with their soul. Like when you're gathering the guys around you, so how are you looking and assessing their soul and all that kind of stuff?

Are you spending time with them?

AARON SPRADLIN: Yes. So it's a one on one. It's a vetting. I know one of the baddest door kickers on the planet. And he can't do he's he's one of these guys that believes in Odin and Thor and all that.

JT MCCRAW: Oh, boy.

AARON SPRADLIN: What's that religion called? I don't know. The Viking religion. I love him. He's one of my brothers.

Because what you need in this is the control of yourself. Because when you see these things, I mean, I'm bringing people to the table that are trained to do a lot of things. And if they can't control what that rage is, then we're going to destroy the organization.

JT/ANTHONY: Yeah. Right.

AARON SPRADLIN: Yeah. “Mission America. They rescued 2500 children, but they killed 18 pimps in one night. ..” That's not a good thing. That's not a good headline.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: Why is that funny, man? I don't know, but that's funny, man, because we're like, “Okay, good job.”

AARON SPRADLIN: But the biggest thing, you have the pimps, you have the girls, but what you really have to target is the John. Because if you get rid of the demand, you can get rid of the supply.

JT MCCRAW: Are there females partaking in this thing?

AARON SPRADLIN: oh, that's the best way to catch or to get somebody to fall into it.

So let's use Nashville as an example because we are now the Bachelorette party capital of the country. I'm not going to send some smooth dude in like they do in the movie, Taken, that talks them into right. Come to the party, young, good looking dude. I got a bunch of drunk 23 year olds.

I'm going to send a 23-year-old as part of my organization. Befriend yall get in with you. Find the one that's just a little too far. Her into the party, drop her a roofie, and then walk her out, snatch her up with whoever she's working with, and she's gone.

JT MCCRAW: I’m trying to get my head around what's the incentive for the woman. So clearly she's not in it. Or maybe she is for the act. But what do you find is the incentive for women to be partaking or participating? Is it money? Drugs?

AARON SPRADLIN: It's money. It's drugs. And probably because they're victims, too. And by doing this, they don't have to do the other anymore.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: So it's a promotion.


JT MCCRAW: That's crazy. That's crazy to think about that I don't have to do the act anymore if I get other girls that can do it for me.

AARON SPRADLIN: That's exactly, but the process. So say an eight-year-old gets brought into what we call a trap house, right?

So she's not going to be, for the most part, terrorized by a man. She's going to have a woman as the motherly figure talking her into things. Well, then they're going to get her an addiction, and then they're going to rape her until she can't feel anything anymore as far as emotionally.

And then she's got the drug, she's got no feeling. They keep her some food in her stomach. They put her into clothes that are appealing, and now she becomes just a machine from the time she's 8 until she's 18. There's a line in the movie where he says something about it passing the drug trade, and it will, because the ROI [RETURN ON INVESTMENT] is so much higher.

If I sell you a bag of dope, I got to go buy more dope.


AARON SPRADLIN: I got an eight-year-old. I'm making money ten times a day off of that eight-year-old until she's 18, only because the appeal is gone. Now she's 18. What do I do?

I make myself another product.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: Get her pregnant.

AARON SPRADLIN: Get her pregnant and have you a new one. In the worst case, and I hate to say it because it's the most brutal thing I've ever heard, and the woman that said it in that room that day, we had probably three seals, six Green Berets, hard dudes, right. She's giving this story of her first rescue. Her first rescue was a four-year-old in Utah that had started being abused in a sexual manner, in a trafficked manner, when she was six-months-old.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: What are they doing here?

AARON SPRADLIN: And there won't be details because I can't talk about them, but you got dudes just breaking. I'm talking hard dudes breaking, because the brutality and the evil and the parents were doing it selling their own child.

They rescued her at four. She did not stop reaching for a penis in public till she was twelve.

It took that long to bring her out of it.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: There's never been this much silence in a podcast before, man. JT. I'm looking at JT as you're talking, and we're both sitting here with our mouths just gate, just at the thought of six month old child getting abused.

I don't get it, man.

JT MCCRAW: Let me ask you this to get off a little bit off this, because I think it's important, because one thing that I know that you love doing is bringing awareness to just the general public on how do I even spot somebody that's trafficking a child? How do I see somebody in public and go, “Wait a minute, something's not adding up here.”

What are the things that you can tell the guys listening what to even look for? If you see something, maybe you should say something to an authority. If you see this…what are those things that you look for?

AARON SPRADLIN: Well, the first thing you got to do is you got to break the rules, because you have to profile.

And we've been programmed. We can't profile.

JT MCCRAW: Champ. Everybody profiles. Everybody.

AARON SPRADLIN: But I'll give you an example of a woman that had come through one of our speaking engagements in Brentwood, and then I'll tell you some things. But this is a great example.

It was cold. It was one of the snow days. Her and her daughter in Brentwood, they're shopping. They leave shopping, and they go across the street. They're going to go to the Rice Bowl. They're going to have lunch, but they're having it in the car. So they're sitting in the car eating their food.

A car pulls into this parking lot. Now, I told you, there's snow and ice on the ground. This girl gets out of the car, and she's wearing Daisy Duke shorts and a crop top In this weather. The tags are out of state. And the guy that she's with does NOT look like her. He was an older white guy, and she was a Latino girl.

She's going into one of these establishments to use the bathroom. This woman's like, “This doesn't look right at all.” She tells her daughter, “Get in the floorboard. Lock the doors. I'll be right back.” She goes into the establishment.

She goes to it's more than one stall bathroom. She goes into the bathroom. She asks the girl, “Are you in danger?” She said,”Yes.” She said, “Are you supposed to be with him?” “No.” She called BPD, Brentwood PD, and within 3 minutes, they were there. They hooked him up.

He had kidnapped her from Texas and was taking her to Louisville to sell her, all because that woman saw something and said something. She saved that girl's life and got her back to her family.


AARON SPRADLIN: They're going to be malnourished.

They're going to avert your eyes. They're going to look away from you. They may be poorly dressed or very seductively dressed. They may have trinkets. They may have tattoos that show ownership. And if you got a 15-year-old with a tat to that's something you just don't have because it's not legal to do that in the state of Tennessee, even with parental consent.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: Are there particular places where the tattoos might be, or is it just…

AARON SPRADLIN: May be on the neck, maybe behind the ear, maybe on the wrist? Inside of the wrist. And it's ownership. The one thing that we know about gangs is they like to put their mark on everything.

Right. It doesn't matter if we're talking to 13, the Crips, the Bloods, everybody's got a mark that they're putting on something, right? The Triad, the Russians, all of that, because is all of the things I just mentioned are involved in it, especially the cartel. And it's such a money making machine.

And now you got a free flow of product coming across the border to a number that's astronomical. I quoted on this, spoke on this the other day. In 2018, we had 14,752 unaccompanied minors. Between March of 2022 and March of 2023, we had 150,000. Now, that's what we could count.

That's what's coming through the processing centers unaccompanied. So you just got a free flow of product coming into the country.

And with that being said, 83% of the children trafficked in America are American children, even though we're bringing across.


AARON SPRADLIN: Yeah, that's Homeland Security stat.

JT MCCRAW: Again, this is not—well you can take it political if you want—but that's the importance of having more control at the border about who enters our country.

It's not just now, look, I'm around immigrants all the time. I love immigrants. I don't have any problem with anybody coming into America. I want them to do it the right way, to honor those that did it the right way. I mean, that's my whole stance of that, man, there's a lot of people who did it the right way that I want to honor…

However, this is part of the problem with an open border policy that it's victimizing kids. I think, unfortunately, in America, that's becoming I won't say praised, but allowed. I mean, it seems like we're victimizing kids a lot these days with the mask of we think we're being “kind,” letting them choose things. But that is the problem with an open border, is it's allowing the product, so to speak, to feed the beast and the people who don't want not in America, but there's people in other countries that love that open border because it makes them a lot of money.

AARON SPRADLIN: A lot of money. A lot of money. And here's the great part. Even if they get caught, right? So in 2008, between 2008, 2009, I worked international extradition as a subcontractor to ICE, which meant we flew illegal felons back to their country of origin to get them out of the U.S. Illegal felons. I want to be clear. Felons. I would be on planes five days a week reading the jackets on these guys. Murder, rape, child molesting, child trafficking, drugs, you name it, these dudes are doing it. And we're giving them the free ride home to the tune of, oh, I did the math on it one day a couple of months ago.

We pay $8,500 an hour as a government to fly those planes, and there's about 25 of them flying daily. And my last flight was I had the head of the MS13 for Phoenix on my plane, taking him back to San Salvador, El Salvador.

This dude did it all. You could barely see his face from the tattoos had on him. And we land in San Salvador. I'm the last guy he sees. The shackles are off. We start taking shackles off at 30,000 because we're in their airspace. We land in San Salvador, I’m the last guy he sees. He walks up, puts his hand on my shoulder, says, “Thanks for the ride, boss. I'll see you in three weeks.”

And I was done. I was like, what a pointless, useless, risky, dangerous job. I mean, we were doing it five days a week, flying into some of the most dangerous airports on the planet.


AARON SPRADLIN: And now they know even more that they can walk right back in. Sure. So he's gone down there, he saw mama put together a new business plan, came back across, and it's all either the drugs or the children. And without, I don't want to horrify the people, and I won't do it.

JT MCCRAW: Guys like that aren't hanging dry wall. They're not framing houses.

AARON SPRADLIN: No, they're not trying to make a better life for their family. They're doing it the bad way. And now that you have this overwhelming power at the northern part of Mexico, which is the Jalisco cartel, they run Mexico.

Even the Sinaloa answer to them because they're so brutal. We went down two months ago. I went down and I worked the Rio Grande Valley. That's Laredo to McAllen. Governor Abbott from Texas said that McAllen is the doorway for the trafficking.

So, you know, like any smart guy, we drive down there, go to what we believe is the crossing point for children because there's markings that they use and there's houses on the other side that are ready to receive them as they come across, get them prepped and get them pushed in.

And nobody does anything about it because the congressional leader for that district used to be the defense attorney for the cartel.

The judge democrat ran unopposed part of it. The DA—unopposed part of it. And they claimed that they're zero for 100,000 on murders in McAllen.

It's like somebody took Rodeo Drive and threw it in the middle of Haiti. In one part of that place, you got Gucci, Prada, Bugatti, Louis [VUITTON], and then you got people that are living on the streets that can't eat. And it's the doorway just flowing through, and nothing stopping it.

Listen, I mean, we go back to the last administration, you could build the wall. I'll just walk them through the reservations, because you can't build the wall on the reservations. And they're pretty big.

ANTHONY FLEMONS: Yeah, they're pretty vast.

AARON SPRADLIN: I mean, Rio Grande Valley is 34,000 square miles and there's only nine checkpoints.

HOST: Yeah, I had a question. Yeah, I guess my question is how are you still around? Is my first question, because do traffickers.

You're doing a lot, and you're doing a lot of risky stuff. Do traffickers now know you? Do they know your face? Do they know your organization? How do you evade that?

AARON SPRADLIN: To sound really crazy…I hope so. Yeah, I hope they know my face. I hope they know my organization.

And I mean that because you don't see my guys. You just see the idiot that was told to do it and God told me to do it in February 2016. Nobody knows who the guys are. Nobody knows who the women are. Nobody knows how we operate. All they know is we don't like them.

The average pimp makes about 32 $36,000 a week. That's a lot of money to take away from him. And I mean, we did a rescue last week when we pulled three out of Antioch and we went to the trap house.

They have a hit on one of my sister organizations’ advocates. They had set her up to bring one of the girls back because she actually has a child with the pimp. Brought her back at her request.

She's an adult that you have to do what you have to do. When she pulled in, another car blocked her off. They were going to take her. Didn't realize that there was six dudes coming with her, and he was furious that his plan didn't work. We didn't hide from it.

JT MCCRAW: Is that the one that you had filmed, The whole thing?

AARON SPRADLIN: We took a reporter with us a week prior to all the spots, and then we ended up pulling one out of where we were.

JT MCCRAW: I bet they were amazed. That because it's one thing to talk about it and report about it.

It's one thing to actually see it in person.

AARON SPRADLIN: I’m going to tell you right now that this reporter is a young reporter.

He was fearless.


AARON SPRADLIN: I got him out in some places because I have some overwatches and whatnot, and we get watched. That's the best part. Both of my trucks are kind of recognizable, and so sometimes we'll roll in different low pro. If we're really working, we won't move in our vehicles.

But I intentionally go for them to see me.

HOST: Hmm.

AARON SPRADLIN: And I have one place I'll stop at my first stop when I'm out in the streets just overseeing, viewing what's going on. There's a taco truck on Nolansville Road. And I'll get there about twelve…

HOST: Ah, dn't say it's my favorite one! Come on.

AARON SPRADLIN: But they're not doing nothing there.

JT MCCRAW: Jim is like, what, right off of Lesion Fields?

HOST: Close.

AARON SPRADLIN: Okay. So, anyway, I'll go up, I'll get me a Pastor Quesadilla and a Coke, and I'll sit there and watch the city come to life after dark. It's insane to watch. It's like it's a whole other environment rising like one in the morning. 12:30/1:00 in the morning. The homeless come out. The Kurdish pride come out. The Kurdish pride. You know what? They're a bad group, but they don't mess with me. Not because I'm a tough guy. It's because they know me. They can sell their drugs, and they can chop their cars and shoot each other up.

I don't care, as long as they ain't messing with kids. But the homeless are my best resource. You go sit there for a little bit, guy, I won't say his name, he'll come rolling up. He recognized me. I've known him for like ten years. He's been living on the streets that long, he'll say, hey, he's of Cuban descent.

I'll get him something to eat. Grab him a 22 ounce, maybe throw him $20. “What do you want to know? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. They're under this bridge. They're under this bridge. They're behind this place. They're over here. This guy's the guy, this guy's, the guy. They're running this. They got a new girl…”

Alright now, I hear they got a new girl, now I got to know, is she one of these kids that are missing? Because I watch the TBI reports every time we get somebody missing. If you want to see how bad it is, we have about 600 runaways a month in Nashville alone.

Or in Tennessee. Excuse me.

JT MCCRAW: 600 a month runaway in Tennessee.

AARON SPRADLIN: Now, if 10% of them become victims, I mean, that's 60 people. That's 60 more new products that are on the street every month. So you want to know where they're coming, where they are. And like I said, there is no demographic.

We have to remember that. I won't say where it was. It was in a town that's really close to here, rhymes with “Banklin.” And we're talking about a 7000 square foot house that got busted with drugs, guns, and girls…in a very nice neighborhood. Or they're living under a bridge in Antioch. We went and fed last week. That's how we got the girls out. Because we work with groups that actually are out there just for a mission.

They're going to bring them clothes. They're going to bring them food. I go to see who's out there. And these people live behind a wall in the woods, and they're being sold for sex to somebody.

JT MCCRAW: It's one thing to rescue the kids, which is obviously super important, but to enter them back into society or to retrain, because you talked about the girl that was rescued at four, and it was twelve until she stopped reaching for a penis in public.

I mean, that's eight years of not doing it.

AARON SPRADLIN: Rehabilitation.

JT MCCRAW: I have to say one thing that Steven [MANSFIELD] is involved in is an organization called “Uncaged.” I'm sure you're aware of them. What they do is they build facilities around the world to take the kids that are rescued and to house them, train them, give them a lot of support because they found out.

I'm sure you notice that people will go back to it because they don't know anything, and they've not had the opportunity to retrain their brain. So that's one thing they do. And I know that's one thing you and I talked about the other day that I know you have big dreams and aspirations to not just rescue, but to rescue them mentally, emotionally, spiritually, give them chance in life to become a good citizen, maybe even have a family know, just live, “a normal life,” whatever that means.

Talk about that just a little bit, because I know know again, Stephen is chairman of that board, its heavy on his heart. He wants to see this change. What does your future look like?

AARON SPRADLIN: Well, the reason that we have that you can talk about, right. The reason that we have an uncaged or the ranch that we want to start is because we have nowhere else for them to go.

Two weeks ago, 3 fourteen year old girls rescued in Department of Children's Services turned them away. They stuffed them at a church somewhere, and two of them ran away. And that's the biggest issue. And we had a conversation with the Administration here not too long ago, and we're like, we're putting the money in the wrong places.

There needs to be an entire separate entity for traffic victims because it's different. The Child Services has their mission. And the problem with Department of Child Services is they're busting at the seams. You need to dump more money into things like that with your $400 million, not build new prisons in Tennessee—not to get on the political side—but our decision making ability at the top sometimes is not in the best interest of the fight with what we want to do if we have and there's a lot of qualifications that you have to pass.

You have to have certified therapists, because Nashville Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition does a wonderful job with adult women that have been put through this and getting them off and getting them healthy and getting them back to productive lives.

And there's other organizations out there like that. But when you get to the point whether it's for children, you need to be able to take that child from the time that they have been rescued, fix them of their addiction, show them that they're loved and that they're not a product.

Put them in a loving environment, not like a dorm, but a home.

Educate them with certain kinds of curriculum and teach life skills, whether it's gardening or have equine therapies or things that are there for them to use their hands. I'm going to tell you that's the greatest thing in the world is equine therapy.

There's something about a horse. I know God put them there for a multitude of reasons. But a horse will heal you. And then after that, they become adults. They've got their education, get them to college, if that's their choice. Scholarship them off to do more with their life than be a victim.

It's very interesting when a victim comes back and becomes an advocate.

Because they can empathize with the victims. And I have a problem sometimes talking guys that are forced into therapy that have PTSD, and they're having a conversation with a psychologist or a psychiatrist that's never seen combat. That doesn't make any sense. It's like a priest giving you marriage counseling. It doesn't make any sense. I mean, I understand the word, but how do you know?

ANTHONY FLEMONS: They can't empathize with what you're going through.

AARON SPRADLIN: Did your wife yell at you when you did the dishes wrong? No!

JT MCCRAW: Wait a minute. You do the dishes? No, I do. Not anymore. I tried it once. I got yelled at, so I quit.

JT MCCRAW: That's my boy.

JIM: I got one more question as we sort of wrap here, okay? You all three sitting at the table over there are some burly dudes who have seen some action, and I'm not a very, let's just say…intimidating guy. What can someone like me do about this, Aside from donating?

What can someone like me do?

AARON SPRADLIN: You spread the word. That's the first thing. That's the biggest thing that we have to do. Back to the original start of this with Sound of Freedom. Hello, world. This is real. But again, like I said, it's the world. It's not here.

So when you're having conversations, if you tell three people, then they tell three people, then they tell three people, the word grows, right? You can go in to the social or into the Internet. You can find the signs, you can look at the statistics, you can do your own research and put out your own information, or you can jump in the car with a camera and come on, roll film. I don't know if father-in-law would dig that or not, but I'm just saying, if you want to go, you can go.

JT MCCRAW: Just don't take the grandchild.

AARON SPRADLIN: Anyway. But no, you can be very involved. Listen, the woman that's got the hit on her, fearless! She doesn't care. And she's not a big burly girl. She's a very slight woman. The woman that is the head of restoration, the global director for restoration, for Operation Underground Railroad. I was supposed to go to Ghana with her, and I only had five months on my passport, didn't have it.

And she's like, all right. I'll go. Anyway, she was going to help start building an orphanage for mutilated children in Ghana, and she went. You know what she did? She built the orphanage and she came back. We got more power than Whatever weight you can lift.

JT MCCRAW: Right, that's true.

And I would say this, I will add to that as we close. One way that you can help yourself personally is stop watching porn.


JT MCCRAW: Because that is the gateway. It gives product the reason to exist. And so that sounds basic. I have friends that drive me nuts when and they just think that porn is just something normal. That just everybody does it. It's just kind of normal. And again, I'm not saying if you look at porn, you're going to become a pedophile. That's not what I'm saying. But the chances are better that you'll become a pedophile if you're watching porn.

And there's a lot of great programs out there. “Conquer Series” is a great one. I don't get paid for saying that, but there are programs out there to help you not be addicted or get out of that addiction of pornography. Because that's where the objectification starts. And objectification doesn't stop with just women. It can continue on and become something that you do not want it to become.

You're feeding a monster that will eventually eat you alive. So that's how you can help. Just a simple step is stop watching porn. Help eradicate the product, the need for the product.

AARON SPRADLIN: Because if you open the door, the demon gets in there.

JT MCCRAW: Yep. If you don't open the door, an alcoholic can't become an alcoholic until he takes a drink.

JT MCCRAW: It's true. Well, guys, we'll have Aaron on again, I'm sure because Anthony was way too quiet because his mouth is on the floor most of this conversation. His head was shaking. No. And I'm sure he has a lot of questions. So we'll have Aaron on at another time. Aaron, thank you.

AARON SPRADLIN: Thank you all. Love you guys. I appreciate what you're doing. I appreciate you letting me be in here.

JT MCCRAW: Absolutely. And again, he's on all socials: Mission America Foundation. He's on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, all that.

Really back him. He needs all the support that he can get, not just financially, but just thank you for doing this.

A little gratitude goes a long way. Thank you for doing what you're doing, Aaron.

And guys, listen, this is important. I'm glad the movie's out. This brings an awareness that we need to get this scourge out of America. So dealing with things like this, dealing with it internally, that is one of the arts of becoming a great man.

OUTRO: To join the great man, the community or to book Stephen, Anthony or JT, to speak at your man's event, go to GreatMan.TV. There you'll also find incredible resources to help you become the Great Man you are made to be. The Great Man Podcast is a WISE Company Production.



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