Human Trafficking (2005– )
Hundreds of thousands of young women have vanished from their everyday lives-forced by violence into a hellish existence of brutality and prostitution. They're a profitable commodity in the multi-billion-dollar industry of modern slavery. The underworld calls them human traffic...
In Prague, Czech Republic, single mother Helena is seduced by a successful, handsome man and travels with him for a weekend in Vienna, Austria; in Kiev, Ukraine, the sixteen-year-old Nadia is selected by a modeling agency and travels to the United States with other selected candidates; in Manila, Philippines, twelve-year-old American tourist Annie Gray is abducted in front of her parents. In common, these girls become victims of an international network of sex traffickers lead by the powerful Sergei Karpovich. In New York, after the third death of a young Eastern European prostitute, obstinate Russian-American NYPD agent, Kate Morozov, convinces the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Chief Bill Meehan to hire her, promising him that she will fight against this type of crime and that he would not regret it.
When a sixteen-year-old girl from the Ukraine, a single mother from Russia, a seventeen-year-old girl from Romania, and a twelve-year-old American tourist become the victims of international sex slave traffickers, a specialized team of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) struggles to expose the worldwide network that has enslaved them. ICE agent Kate Morozov knows the horror of sexual exploitation first-hand and is dedicated to dismantling the network and bringing the ring's kingpin to justice. From a torture chamber in Queens to the flesh-peddlers of Russia, the hunt is on as the fates of relentless ICE agents, the ruthless traffickers and their defenseless victims collide in a powder keg conspiracy of global proportions.
- A teenage girl is roughly herded through a non-descript apartment by a man named Andrei (Mark Antony Krupa). He sells one hour with the girl to an obese man, but as the man forces her to her knees and drops his pants, the girl scrambles to the window and jumps to her death.
Investigating the girl's death is Russian-American police officer Kate Morozov (Mira Sorvino). Kate estimates the victim's age at 14 or 15, and finds a name tattooed on her neck in Russian; someone the girl loved back home. She disagrees with her partner's estimate of the girl being a local who fell in at a young age. The victim is the third eastern European girl found dead in a month, no ID, nobody knowing her. Kate is certain the girl is a human trafficking victim and decides to call it into Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
Prague, Czech Republic: Single mother Helena (Isabelle Blais) is at home, doing figuring with her computer and adding machine. Her young daughter, Ivanka (Alice Morel-Michaud) sits nearby. Helena steps outside her house where her aunt (Dawn Ford) arrives to take care of Ivanka while Helena goes to work serving drinks at a pub. A handsome young man, Frederick (David Boutin), asks if he might see her later. She smiles over her shoulder as she continues on her rounds.
Frederick walks Helena to the bus stop after her shift ends. They make small talk about each other until Helena's bus arrives, and Frederick asks to take her on a proper date.
Kiev, Ukraine: two adolescent girls, Nadia Taganova (Laurence Leboeuf) and her best friend, Tanya (Pascale Bélanger, uncredited), are coming out of school. Nadia is holding a brochure for a model scouting agency. The two girls are heavily excited as they rush out of school to where the agency is holding auditions.
In a rest room, they change out of their school uniforms into street clothes, register for the audition and take their seats among a number of hopefuls. The founder of the agency is introduced as Mr. Sergei Karpovich (Robert Carlyle), who tells the hopefuls that his scouting agency represents over 200 models, many of whom are famous and earning a lot of money.
The auditions are run smoothly and professionally, girls taking turns posing and smiling for several photographs. One photograph of each girl, including pertinent data on them, are posted on a board. Nadia is chosen for recruiting. The chosen girls remain in the studio and are briefed on the next steps by Titania (Bjanka Murgel, uncredited), one of the people running the agency for Karpovich.
Nadia changes back into her school uniform before returning home where her father, Viktor (Rémy Girard) is preparing dinner. Nadia realizes she's still wearing the lipstick she put on for the modeling audition and wipes it off with a napkin, but Viktor sees her reflection in a foyer mirror. The two fall to arguing over what has been sore spots between them for some time: Nadia wants to work to help both herself and her father. Viktor insists on her finishing school, even though he's hard pressed to pay for it. Nadia finally lashes out at her father regarding the death of Viktor's wife and Nadia's mother, who encouraged Nadia to try and live her dreams as soon as possible. But Nadia realizes she's gone too far and stands embarrassed and remorseful for several seconds before Viktor quietly tells her to sit and eat.
Manila, the Phillipines: The Gray family from America is on vacation: Samantha (Emma Campbell), her husband and their twelve-year-old daughter, Annie (Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse). As Annie calls her grandmother, a young boy on a bicycle stops across a nearby street and smiles at her in a friendly manner. Annie smiles back and waves at the boy, prompting her parents to look over their shoulders at him.
Department of Homeland Security, New York City: Kate is visiting a supervisor in ICE, agent Bill Meehan (Donald Sutherland), telling her about the latest European girl to die in America with no known family or next of kin. Agent Meehan has identified the girl as Lena Sanova (Catherine Bérubé, uncredited), a 14-year-old from an orphanage in Russia. Her fingerprints were on a tourist visa eight months ago.
Kate reveals that she wants to work for Meehan as an ICE agent. She hands him a dossier of her own credentials and work history in law enforcement, and her fluency in Russian. Meehan is tough to impress, but Kate says she's been focused on these three teenage European girls more than any other case she's worked on for six years. She's infuriated at the people responsible for Lena's death and wants to nail them. Meehan smiles at her moxie and agrees to her undergoing ICE training. Kate promises he won't regret hiring her.
Prague, Czech Republic: Helena arrives at a riverside restaurant for a dinner date with Frederick, who has been treating her like a princess. As he pours champagne, Helena shows him that she's gotten a passport, that will allow her to travel with Frederick for a weekend vacation together in Vienna. Later that evening, Helena arrives home, and looks in on Ivanka. Helena says aloud that she thinks Frederick really likes her.
Kiev, Ukraine: Late evening. Nadia packs a traveling bag and looks fondly at a photo of herself and her late mother. She puts the photo in her traveling bag and tiptoes to the living room where her father sleeps on a sofabed. She puts a note written in Russian on a table before quietly stepping out of the house.
Vienna, Austria: Helena steps off a train and meets Frederick inside the station. She kisses him hello and he tells her how glad he is that she's here. Helena looks pleasantly surprised at the stately manor he drives her up to; a much nicer looking place than her apartment in Prague. The manor looks curiously unfurnished as Frederick brings her into the foyer. But Helena is still thrilled at what she sees; not noticing that Frederick's face now shows a set, purposeful expression.
They pass a man near the upstairs landing, leaning against a door as he talks on a phone. Helena gives him a simple hello in passing but doesn't take his presence seriously. But as Frederick leads her into what looks like a spartanly furnished upstairs office, Andrei is seen at a desk. He asks Frederick for Helena's passport. Helena starts to become aware that there are other men in the office, not looking overly friendly. As one of them comes up directly behind her, Helena looks to her right and sees a number of young women, some still teenagers, sitting on mattresses and looking frightened and unhappy.
Andrei hands Frederick a generous bundle of cash. The other men in the office are now blocking Helena from backtracking through the doorway. Helena finally realizes to her shock and horror that Frederick has sold her to these men to be their captive and slave. Frederick quickly leaves the manor as Helena is roughly seized by her new captors. Andrei bashes Helena across her jaw, knocking her down onto one of the mattresses. Straddling her, he warns her that he and his network now know where she lives and will harm, even kill, her daughter if she tries to run or disobey them. Helena screams in despair as Andrei rapes her. One of the captives, a young woman named Ludmilla (Sarah Allen), forces herself to look away; her face streaked with tears and etched in terror.
Manila, the Philippines: Annie and her mother are shopping in a street fair. Samantha turns away to try on a few dresses at a clothing stall, and just as her back is turned from Annie, the girl looks back into the crowded street and sees the same young boy on the bicycle, shaking a home-made charm bracelet invitingly. Annie walks over to the boy, taking a closer look at the bracelet, which he lets her hold in her hands. The hum of a a small Daihatsu motor van comes up the street. The van pauses just long enough for two men inside to seize Annie from behind and haul her into the vehicle. In the bustle of the street fair, Annie's frightened cries of protest are lost and nobody seems to notice as the Daihatsu drives off with her. By the time her mother hears Annie's cries, the Daihatsu has disappeared into Manila's crowded streets.
Samantha and her husband are at the Manila police station where Inspector Roy Filipo (Edouardo Castillon), tries to assure them that they're doing everything they can, although it's difficult to track the Daihatsu without its license plate number, which is probably a fake, anyway. Arriving just then to assist the Grays is Tom Halloran (Terry Haig) from the Department of Homeland Security. They are grateful and hopeful at his arrival, feeling lost in Manila and believing that Annie was the victim of a random terrorist attack. But Halloran is sure that Annie was targeted by sex traffickers. Annie's disappearance fits the pattern, and in a poverty-wracked country like the Philippines, there are plenty of people ready to exploit such a lucrative market.
New York City: Kate is at home with her brother, Mischa (Michael Sorvino), who she's putting up while he attends Columbia University. As she's helping him get settled in, they start to watch a news broadcast covering the ICE investigation into Annie Gray's disappearance. Bill Meehan delivers an impassioned address to a full news crew about the incomparable difference in profit between selling drugs and selling people.
Manila, the Philippines: Annie is being held in a trafficking 'safe house.' The terrified child cries as the local ringleader, Tommy (Vlasta Vrana), pulls roughly at her clothing and manhandles her body underneath.
JFK Airport, Queens, NYC: Nadia the the other girls selected by the model scouting agency go through customs. As the girls head out of the terminal, Titania is seen meeting up with Andrei.
The girls all pile into a minivan. Helena already sits in the van, and Nadia takes a seat next to her. Excited at being in the United States, Nadia tries to strike up some small talk with the Czech woman.
The van pulls up to an alley in Newark, New Jersey. Helena takes an increasingly nervous Nadia by the hand as the girls all enter the alley and go into a non-descript building by a back entrance. What the young women are really here for, starts to become clear to them as they are ushered through back hallways, down a stairway and into a cluttered room with bunk beds and dressing tables, and their 'escorts' start to become much rougher and harsher. Nadia cries fearfully as she begins understanding the fate awaiting her; the slavers lining the girls up in front of the bunks and ripping off their tops to expose their bras and cleavage.
The newly conscripted sex slaves' 'home' is shown to be in a sleazy strip bar called Kimmy's. Sergei Karpovich steps out of a chauffered limo and walks into the strip club. Karpovich, by now, is seen to be the kingpin of a very extensive and world-wide sex trafficking ring; Andrei is one of his lieutenants who travels around the world overseeing conscripting hubs. Inspecting his new 'merchandise,' Karpovich gives the girls the run down. They all wanted to come to America, and he got them there, but it all cost a lot of money: each girl now is in debt to him for over 10,000 American dollars. Karpovich's speech is expertly worded, suggesting to the girls that they will eventually work off their debt to him in a few years, and that he and they are 'all in this together.' But he also warns them that each girl, until she works off her debt, now belongs to him, and if any of them runs away, he knows where they all lived, and the names of all their family members, as well as how to reach them, and if necessary, harm them severely. He tells Andrei and Titania that he wants Nadia and Helena taken to Washington D.C.
Karpovich, in the bar room of the strip club, is watching a news program that says that contrary to popular belief, the disappearance of Annie Gray is not the work of Anti-American radicals, but sex traffickers. He calls Tommy to warn him about this, demanding he make sure there is no heat on him. At that moment, Nadia is brought upstairs in a skimpy outfit and made to stand at a dancing pole. Karpovich orders her to strip naked, and with one look at her body, knows that she's a virgin, meaning the first time she's sold, it can be at a significantly higher price.
Karpovich is not the only one with Nadia on his mind at the moment; back in her apartment in Kiev, Viktor looks grimly at the note, paces around the apartment, and remembers his arguments with Nadia over letting her do some traveling away from home. He knows that something bad has happened.
Nadia and Helena have been moved to a house in Washington, D.C. which appears to be a very ordinary suburban residence only a block away from a children's playground. During a quiet period, the two are allowed to play cards to pass time and talk to each other about themselves, both of them desperately needing a friend.
Helena is summoned upstairs to Karpovich's office. Having learned of Helena's aptitude for bookkeeping, he's put her to work handling some of his financial records. Because she's older than the other girls enslaved there, she's also become a den mother to them, a relationship that Karpovich and his lieutenants exploit to keep them in line. Karpovich decides to entrust Helena with a delicate task doing bookkeeping on some of his more private financial records recording profits from the sex trafficking ring. Trusting her with this means reinforcing her fear of him, and he shows her photographs that he's had taken of her aunt and Ivanka in Prague. Karpovich also offers Helena a sizable bribe if she does this bookkeeping job well... the privelege of visiting her daughter soon.
Meehan goes to see Kate at her office. He's put her in charge of an investigation into a nearby beauty parlor that is believed to be a front for prostitution. A number of the women there appear to be Russian, meaning Kate's fluency will be invaluable.
Kate begins staking out the beauty parlor with other agents, looking over photographs. Among the men being photographed going into and out of the beauty parlor are Andrei and Karpovich himself. Kate and her team have one lead: a store owner near the beauty parlor blames them for his business' stagnancy. Kate speaks with the store owner, who suspects something funny about the beauty parlor because a great many patrons there are men. He also gives Kate a lead: two Russian women from the beauty parlor had come into his shop a few times and took a liking to the gummy bears he sells.
Northern Luzon, the Philippines: Farmers are tending to a rice paddy. A farmer named Manong is struggling to make ends meet and keep his family fed. A young Filipino man, Rico (Von Flores), arrives in a pickup truck. Manong speaks to him warily about a deal they've made. Manong lets Rico take his youngest daughter away to a poolhouse that doubles as a child brothel owned by Tommy. As Tommy and Rico herd the frightened girl and a young Filipino boy through the brothel, Tommy takes a phone call and tells Rico that a ship will be ready to transport all the children they're holding. Rico brings the girl to a cellar which doubles as a makeshift cell, where a large number of young children are being kept. One of them is Annie Gray, who immediately tries to comfort the new conscript.
Annie's mother, Samantha, is becoming unglued at the seams at Annie not having been found yet. But Inspector Roy has brought in someone who he believes can help: a woman named Ellen Baker (Lynne Adams), who operates a group devoted to stopping human trafficking. Roy has been able to make many arrests through Ellen's organization. Frustrated as she is, Samantha sees she has little choice but to work with Ellen in the hopes of getting Annie back.
Tommy is seeing to the building of a large cargo crate. The crate needs to be able to hold all the children so a ship can smuggle them to the Middle East alive and healthy.
Kiev, Ukraine: Viktor pleads with Tanya to tell him anything she knows about Nadia's disappearance. She tells him about the model scout agency where she and Nadia went to audition.
At that moment, Titania is arriving at an expensive mansion with several young women, including Nadia and Helena. Inside the mansion is a party being thrown by a number of wealthy men, who pay Titania generously for the services of the young women.
The party has been going on for several hours, many of the wealthy men are drunk or high on drugs. Slipping out of her shoes, Nadia sneaks to a window and tries to run away. Titania notices and runs after her. Nadia is almost at the gate, screaming for help, when Titania catches up and shoves her to the ground. Titania lashes out at her underlings for the close call, and looks around with extreme worry as Nadia is dragged back to the limo.
Back at the house where they are kept, Nadia still hopes to escape and turns to Helena as the only friend she can trust for help. But Helena sharply reminds Nadia that she has a very young daughter who is being watched closely by Karpovich's men to ensure Helena's continued obedience.
Helena is summoned upstairs, presumably to be seen by Karpovich. The white-haired slaver who failed to catch Nadia is trying to explain to Karpovich that he fell asleep in the limo. Karpovich, unforgiving, picks up a ballpoint pen and jams its writing point into the burly man's jugular vein. The slaver collapses, bleeding to death. Nadia sees this, but gets back downstairs without being seen by Karpovich.
Karpovich tells Helena that she's being sent to another location that same night. Grabbing the Czech woman by the chin, he sternly warns her, under pain of Ivanka's life, not to breathe a word of the underling's death to any of the other girls.
Back in the Philippines, Ellen has brought Samantha Gray to her organization's Manila branch office. She shows her a video of herself confronting an American-looking man with a young Filipino girl, who Ellen suspected of being a trafficked child slave. She explains to Samantha that these patrons can be any person's neighbor or best friend or even a family member, and they pay lots of money that keeps the trafficking business going. Although she tries to listen, Samantha's nerves are badly shot. Ellen invites Samantha to stay with her at the organization headquarters.
Another child is thrown into the makeshift cell at the child brothel and Annie sits up, pulling at her hair in anger and fear. Not only for herself, but for all the other children.
Carlina's beauty parlor is raided by an ICE team led by Kate. They rescue a number of trafficked women; including Helena and Ludmilla. As Kate announces they are being brought to a place of safety for protective custody, Helena runs up to her and begs to speak to her on an urgent matter, although she backs off and shakes her head no when Kate asks if Helena wants to talk right away.
Karpovich hears of the raid and furiously orders Andrei to call operatives in Prague immediately; they need to seize Ivanka to ensure Helena's silence.
Helena tells Kate her story, how her daughter is now in danger. She knows that Karpovich can have men in Prague hurrying to her home within an hour's time. Kate gives Helena her phone. Helena calls her aunt and warns her of the danger. Two of Karpovich's men are seen getting out of a car in front of the building, but Helena's aunt hears their approach and slips past them, carrying Ivanka out of the building into an arriving police vehicle.
Kate arrives at the ICE safe room to bring Helena the good news. Despite Helena's overwhelming relief to hear that Ivanka is safe, she tells Kate that she's too frightened of Karpovich to testify against him. The most Kate can get from Helena is an agreement to testify once Ivanka is with her.
Of course, this doesn't sit too well with Meehan, who cautions Kate that all they have right now is a group of smuggled prostitutes. If Kate can't get something more out of any of the women, there is no way to positively link them to a human trafficking ring. Although he can tell that Kate is reticent, he tells her that she has to tell Helena whatever Kate thinks it is that Helena wants to hear, even if it's untrue.
Just then, Meehan gets a phone call. Taking it, he tells Kate that she has a visitor.
A slick, weaselly attorney, Richard Sapperstein (Joe Cobden) is pressing for Helena's immediate release. He has her passport to positively verify her identity, and insists on proper legal grounds being provided, in writing, to justify protective custody. But Kate finds the proper riposte, asking Sapperstein who hired him to demand Helena's release; she knows Helena didn't do it. Kate snatches Helena's passport and promises to return it to her, and then promises Sapperstein that she'll discuss Helena's release soon as he provides her written documentation of who hired him to even know that Helena was being held in protective custody, much less petition for her release.
Kate tails Sapperstein through the streets of New York and sees him being admitted to a cordoned off area where Karpovich's legitimate model agency is giving a presentation. Karpovich is furious at Sapperstein's failure, warning the attorney that he has until tomorrow to see Helena out of protective custody. Helena has seen too much of the inside of Karpovich's organization to be left as a loose end. As Sapperstein leaves, Andrei reports more bad news to Karpovich: police in Prague have Ivanka and Helena's aunt.
Kate shows photographs of Karpovich to Helena. ICE has seen his face and knows he's involved, but they don't have his name yet. She promises that arrangements are being made to bring Ivanka safely to Helena's side. When Helena still won't talk, Kate finally loses patience and tries playing hardball, escorts her out of the building, returning her passport and telling her that she's free to go.
Meanwhile, back in Kiev, Viktor has learned the name Sergei Karpovich as the head of the model scout agency, and suspects Karpovich of orchestrating Nadia's disappearance. He starts planning a risky bid to infiltrate the organization and rescue Nadia himself.
A contact helps arrange for Viktor to visit the mansion in Vienna run by Andrei. He manages to pass scrutiny and bond with Andrei through their both having fought in the war in Chechnya. Andrei tells Viktor that if he hires him, he'd need to be available to leave for Mexico city immediately.
Kate and Helena are talking on a rooftop, and Helena manages to let go of a lot of her pain and anguish. She blames herself for falling for Frederick's charm. She also talks about the bond she formed with Nadia. Kate tells a dark story from her past that even Mischa doesn't know about, that explains her ferocity in fighting sex trafficking: When Kate was twelve, her favorite uncle raped and sodomized her during a family gathering.
Kate and her team research Karpovich's background. He has a master's degree in computer science from a Russian university, and he runs a fully legitimate modeling agency and internet dating service that make him a lot of money. Helena, while keeping Sergei's records, saw that the brothel house in Washington brought in a quarter of a million each month. Kate knows he operates such brothels all over America and all over the world.
Having put together this much intel on Karpovich, Kate quietly begs Meehan for the plane tickets to bring Helena's aunt and daughter to New York, and Meehan now agrees without hesitation.
Helena quickly becomes more talkative once she hears this. There's one more person on her mind now that she hopes Kate can help with: Nadia. Helena only remembers that the Washington DC brothel was on a quiet street, but she remembers seeing a yellow bus ride by one day: Kate smiles, knowing it's a school bus, meaning a school and probably a children's park are nearby. Helena also remembers the sound of a train every thirty to forty minutes.
Kate tells Helena that she's going to be moved to a safe house, and her aunt and Ivanka are on a plane to the United States as they speak, and will live with her at there. But perhaps the house is not so safe after all: Sapperstein is seen on the phone with Karpovich, telling him that Helena is being moved to a safe house at 1 pm, although he doesn't know where.
An unmarked black minivan transports Helena and Kate to the safe house. As Helena looks it over, Kate's cell phone rings. The call is unclear, and Kate has to step out into the hall. Helena glances outside a window and spots a billboard for Destination Airlines. The name rings a bell with her, and she remembers seeing such a billboard before. Seeing Kate occupied with her phone call, Helena opens the door leading from Ivanka's room out onto the terrace-- something she'd been warned she must never do without ICE assistance. Kate happens to look over her shoulder and calls for Helena to come back into the house quickly.
A flat, firecracker-like noise rings out. Kate runs to Helena's side, but she's already dead to a sniper's bullet. Part one of the miniseries closes with Kate weeping in grief over Helena's body.
Part Two begins in Karpovich's lavish New York City townhouse apartment. Titania arrives to find the apartment being swept for bugs. Karpovich scolds Titania in the belief she didn't see federal agents outside his apartment, staking it out. He's changing his way of conducting business, telling Titania he can't afford to be seen together with her and Andrei any further. Karpovich is sure that the feds are going to try and slip a mole into his organization to get close to him, as he allowed Helena to do. Grabbing Titania's arm, he warns her ominously that anyone who becomes a liability in his eyes will not be retained.
Kate is seen at the airport. She has the sad task of meeting Ivanka and Viktoria and telling them that Helena is gone. Back at ICE headquarters, Meehan is trying to snap Kate out of her funk. Hoping to shift the odds back in their favor, Meehan plays a new card. Going back on orders he'd previously given to Kate, he now wants her to talk to the other girls in protective custody. Hopefully one of them will be angered enough at Helena's death open up a little more and start to trust Kate. He warns her, however, not to let any of the other women see her personal feelings of guilt.
Unfortunately, Kate runs into a brick wall with Ludmilla. Her fear of Karpovich's reach and influence is so great by now that she takes every word out of Kate's mouth with contempt, including that at some point, ICE will be unable to hold them much longer and will begin deportation procedures, and Karpovich's men will be waiting back at their homes.
Viktor has gotten into Karpovich's organization. He's arriving at Mexico City helping to escort a group of trafficked young women. Although he's loathe to treat them roughly, he also knows he can't afford to be too gentle with them, either, and discreetly helps push them forward from time to time. The girls are loaded into two trucks which drive off through the Mexican mesas. The trucks stop at a police checkpoint, and the officers there take 'bribes' in the form of sex with girls of their choosing.
In the Philippines, Annie is helping the young Filipino girl feed a couple of birds on the other side of an air vent in their prison. The child looks and acts unwell. Concerned, Annie feels the girl's forehead and notes that she has a bad fever.
Ellen arrives back at her organization headquarters to find Samantha anxiously packing her belongings. The long, slow process of trying to find Annie is taking a toll on her marriage and the family's savings. Ellen tries to counsel Samantha as best she can; holding her as she breaks down and cries.
Kate, Meehan and Tom Halloran are meeting with a presidential Undersecretary. Halloran must announce that the trail is growing cold on Annie Gray. The Manila police chief is short on staff, and as Halloran notes, many of them are probably on the take. The lead Secretary is having a meeting with the president in a week and they need to come up with somethiing for him to say. The undersecretary asks about the investigation into Helena's death, which Meehan says is all speculation at this point.
Knowing that Karpovich tries to demonstrate that he's smarter than the ICE by displaying a squeaky-clean public face, Kate asks the Undersecretary for clearance to bring Karpovich in for questioning. She wants to try and shake him up, make him sweat a little, believing that, upon feeling he's been challenged, Karpovich will want to fight back as a sign of being untouchable. This, Kate hopes, will lead to a mistake on Karpovich's part which they can exploit. Meehan also says that Karpovich must have an extremely large supply of cash from all his prostitution houses, and it must lead somewhere, giving them a trail to follow.
At the prostitution house in Washington DC, Andrei and Titania are showing the girls there a newspaper article about Helena's death, using it as a warning to reinforce their fear of Karpovich and further cow them into submission and silence, lest they suffer the same fate. Nadia, still kept at the house, cries freely as she looks at the photo of Helena's face. A client arrives at the house, having purchased time with Nadia. Nadia begs for a moment to use the restroom. Once inside, she starts to fall apart. She spots a carrying case under the sink and fumbles through its contents, swallowing a large number of different pills. As the man is taking her, the pills start to take effect, forcing her to rush madly back downstairs to throw up.
Kate goes to a medical office at ICE headquarters. Ludmilla has tested HIV positive. In her homeland, this is as good as a death sentence. Kate says this is more reason why she needs to stay in America, which of course, means Ludmilla needs to play ball with the ICE. Ludmilla is disgusted, thinking Kate is using it as leverage to get her to cut a deal. As the med tech starts to draw blood, Ludmilla suddenly shoves her aside, grabs the needle and then grabs Kate by the throat, brandishing the needle in front of her face, lashing out at Kate as self-righteous. Kate disarms Ludmilla but then quickly backs off, telling Ludmilla that she's going to stop Karpovich, with or without her help.
Back home, Kate has come up with an idea. She asks Mischa to help her procure a Russian email address. She wants to market herself as a mail order bride to slip into Karpovich's operation as an abducted sex slave. Mischa knows that Kate is turning to him for help because her ICE team, and Meehan, would never let her go forward with such a bold plan.
At the poolhouse/child brothel in the Philippines, Tommy argues over the phone with a contact about delays in shipping the child slaves, Annie sits in the room, dizzily drawing a sketch on paper, as a half-full glass of milk and an open bottle of pills sits on the table in front of her.
Tommy carelessly throws down the phone on the bed and leaves the room. He goes out on the pool deck to deal with a client who wants an older woman, feeling that the children are too young for his tastes. Annie glances out after Tommy, grabs up Tommy's phone and places a call to her mother's cell phone.
Ellen is driving Samantha to the airport when Annie's call comes through. Ellen hits the brakes and tries to guide Samantha into asking Annie questions that might lead to her whereabouts. Unfortunately, Annie is only half in control of herself due to the pills she'd been forced to take, and she only knows she's somewhere in Manila. Glancing over her shoulder, Annie sees that Tommy is returning to the room, and she stuffs the phone under the blanket so hastily that she forgets to close it back up.
Tommy puts a hand on Annie's shoulder, asking in a lecherous tone for her to show him what she's been drawing. Samantha overhears because the phone call is still connected. The lewd tone of Tommy's voice pushes Samantha over the edge, and she pours out all her bottled-up rage, screaming viciously into her phone at Tommy that she's going to kill him. Tommy hears and finds the phone under the blanket, clicking it off abruptly. Only now, Samantha realizes the horrible mistake she's made, revealing to Annie's captor that Annie had sneaked in the phone call while his back was turned, and now he was going to punish Annie severely for this. Ellen tries to comfort a sobbing Samantha, telling her that now they know for certain that Annie is alive.
Mischa is helping Kate register for Karpovich's internet dating site, 'Catch my Love.' She has her age put down as 21, believing she won't be desired if she's too old. She and Mischa decide to list her profession as a kindergarten teacher and that she's into gymnastics, believing this will give the impression that she has a slim, attractive body.
As Kate and Meehan await Karpovich's arrival, Kate says she thinks Meehan should do the interview. Needing to hide from Meehan that she can't let Karpovich see her face because it would nip her little secret undercover operation in the bud, Kate butters Meehan up by suggesting that Karpovich is too macho to take kindly to being questioned by a woman, and also she knows Meehan is the heavy hitter in the department, and she'd like to watch him at work. Meehan sees through Kate's story enough to know that she's hiding something from him, but he can't put his finger on what.
Karpovich denies ever having seen Helena when shown a photo of her before she was killed. He admits having been at the brothel/beauty parlor where she was taken into custody, but says he went there as a john seeking pleasure, and the last time he was there must have been before she started working there, as he'd never seen her before. Taking a good, hard look at Sapperstein, Meehan slyly drops the revelation that Sapperstein, aside from being Karpovich's representative attorney for the interview, was also the same attorney petitioning for Helena to be released from protective ICE custody. A careful back and forth game of cat and mouse ensues between Meehan and Sapperstein.
Meehan smiles in anticipation as Karpovich, over Sapperstein's protests, insists he will address Meehan himself. The two lock eyes like alpha bighorn sheep about to butt heads, neither backing down from the other. Karpovich challenges Meehan to arrest him if he's sure Karpovich murdered Helena. Meehan gives a soft chuckle and tells Karpovich that he's on their radar and it's only a matter of time. But he knows as well as Karpovich does, he has nothing solid to pin on him, meaning the whole interview, in Karpovich's opinion, is a waste of time. He curtly tells Sapperstein that they're leaving. Although safely on the transparent side of a two-way mirror, Kate can almost feel Karpovich's eyes squarely upon her.
Later that evening, Kate is in her cubicle at the ICE building, checking for responses to her profile on the dating site. She has three responses. Printing one up, the page has a photograph of the responder, named Jeff Templeton. She compares it to photos taken outside Carlina's beauty parlor/brothel and knows that one of Karpovich's spotters has bitten at her bait.
Down in Mexico, the truck is stopping a few miles south of the US border. The trafficked girls are warned that they will be led on foot, marching by night and sleeping by day. Any of them who tries to run, or who doesn't have enough stamina to keep up with the hard march, will be killed. Viktor and Walter (Richard Zeman, uncredited), an overseer in Karpovich's organization, march the young women through the mesa and through the border fence, where they're met by two SUV's, which transport them to a gas station/rest stop. There. Walter tells Viktor that he's leaving the escort convoy to take care of business in Boston. Viktor remains with the girls who are transported in another SUV to the brothel in Washington DC.
Andrei pays Viktor well for his work and says he's taking another girl to another location. Viktor looks over his shoulder, locking eyes with Nadia. As Nadia stares in amazement and shock, Viktor makes a sudden plea to Andrei, offering to transport Nadia in Andrei's place. But Andrei points out that Karpovich himself doesn't know Viktor yet, and therefore wouldn't trust him with such a task. Viktor can do nothing as Andrei carts Nadia off to the waiting car. Nadia continues to stare at her father in stunned, tearful silence, but knows to keep quiet.
Andrei herds Nadia into a studio where she is to be hardcore-raped and roughhoused by two big men in leather harnesses in front of a camera for a hardcore-porn video.
A team of ICE agents is researching all of Karpovich's legitimate financial transactions. The news they have for Kate isn't good. One trail led to a dead end, cash payments made every month. Karpovich's operations are proving to be handled with fearsome intelligence and craftiness.
Kate is handed a folder with a photo taken of Helena just after her murder on the safe house terrace. Remembering Helena's last words before she was killed, about a plane, Kate goes back to the crime scene. Standing on the terrace, she looks out all around at the view, hoping to spot and recognize whatever attracted Helena's attention. She sees the billboard for Destination Airlines and immediately calls their offices, asking about their flights to New York and Washington.
Driving through heavy rains down the streets of Washington, Kate locates the brothel where Helena had been kept; positively identifying it through its proximity to another Destination Airlines billboard, a children's playground, and the train Helena mentioned hearing. She sees a man take a young woman outside toward a car. Suddenly the woman rushes over to Kate's vehicle, slapping her hands frantically on the window, tearfully begging for help. The man grabs her and hands Kate a deadly glance, and Kate promptly averts her eyes, driving away, trying to act frightened.
Kate calls Meehan, who lambastes her on driving out alone for unauthorized surveillance. But his anger is quickly curbed when Kate tells him she's positive beyond a doubt that she's located the brothel where Helena had been kept. She asks that the house be raided ASAP because Nadia might still be there, and from what Helena told Kate about Nadia, Kate feels she might be a potential witness toward Helena's murder.
In Manila, Tommy and Rico come into the makeshift cell and check on the Filipino girl. Annie tells them she's sure the child has the flu. Rico examines the child and determines that it's much worse than influenza; the girl is afflicted with bacterial meningitis, which is often fatal, and contagious. Annie begs the two men to take the girl to a hospital. Tommy appears to relent, and Rico carries the girl out of the cell. But when Annie climbs up to peer out of the air vent, she sees Tommy kill the child. Annie cries in fear and horror as she looks on.
The camera shifts to the office of a physician in New York City, Dr. Smith (Larry Day). He is on the phone with his wife, and the camera pans in to show a photo of him with his wife and their two adolescent daughters. Dr. Smith tells his wife that he loves her before ending the call. But as soon as he's off the phone, Dr. Smith taps a few keys on his computer to bring up a website dedicated to hardcore child pornography. Dr. Smith stares at the screen with a leering look before his secretary pages him to tell him of his next appointment.
That next appointment is Karpovich. The consultation seems routine enough, but when making the next follow-up, Dr. Smith casually mentions he's going to be out of town in two weeks, for a vacation with some old school buddies in the Philippines. Dr. Smith asks Karpovich if he knows where one can have 'a good time' in the Philippines, and Karpovich slips him the phone number for Tommy's child brothel.
The Washington DC brothel is raided by Kate and an ICE team. Viktor narrowly escapes through a window and races for the train. Kate spots him and pursues. Although she lands hard from a jump from the second-floor terrace and sprains her ankle and knee, Kate still manages to catch up to Viktor on the train platform. Viktor, desperate, takes a chance in explaining that he's the father of one of the trafficked girls and has infiltrated the organization in an attempt to rescue her. When Kate hears Viktor say Nadia's name, she finds she believes his story and lowers her gun. Viktor nods gratefully to Kate as the train pulls into the station and he hurries to board it.
Karpovich is furious when he hears about the raid. The raid on Carlina's in Queens, where Helena was rescued, and now the ICE raid narrowly missing rescuing Nadia, shows a deliberate pattern to Karpovich. He's sure there's a mole in his organization, although Andrei insists that all the men under his command are clean.
Alone in the studio, Nadia sits naked near the bed upon which she'd been gang-banged. Her face is bruised and cut. Aching for some measure of solace, she sings a song to herself that her mother had sang to her when she was a child.
Samantha is joining Ellen in her crusade, confronting American-looking men walking the streets of Manila with Filipino children. Samantha is also showing posters of Annie in the hopes that someone might say they'd seen her.
Samantha calls a brief stop to pick up some bottled water for the two of them. Ellen happens to turn around and sees another American man step onto the street with a teenage Filipino boy, and she quickly starts her camera again to film another confrontation. As it happens, they're right in front of Tommy's child brothel, and Tommy quickly rushes out to take up the confrontation himself. He punches Ellen out and stomps heavily on her camcorder to destroy it. Returning from the supermarket, Samantha sees Ellen sprawled in the street.
Back at her headquarters, Ellen manages to repair the camcorder enough to replay the recordings. When the film plays back Tommy rushing out at Ellen, Samantha recognizes his voice.
Tom Halloran is being driven through the streets of Manila toward the police office in a squad car. He hears from Inspector Roy Filipo that Ellen has identified one of the men involved in Annie Gray's kidnapping; a man with an Aussie accent. Halloran doesn't notice the squad car driver glancing at him through the rear-view mirror.
The driver is on the take; working for Tommy. When Tommy has been identified as owner of a strip club and a poolhouse, the driver calls him to warn him that a search warrant has been issued and a raid is forthcoming. The cop doesn't know when.
Tommy wastes no time. He and his underlings rush to gather all the children being kept in the cellar and start herding them out. As he warns a female overseer about what's happening, Dr. Smith is seen climbing out of the pool with a young boy, laughing happily.
The Manila police raid storms in, as Tommy and Rico herd the children through the back hallways toward an underground garage. Annie, sensing that possible rescue might be near, tries to run toward the commotion, but Rico's pull on her arm is too firm, and Annie is too scared to try and scream. The children are herded into an SUV and Tommy drives off with them, escaping the raid with all of the children. But Halloran bags an important prize: Dr. Smith.
Tommy and his men have made it to a shipping port where the crate has been finished to transport the children to Saudi Arabia. He gives each child an injected sedative so they will be able to sleep until the crate has been placed on the ship and the ship is on its way. Annie struggles with Tommy and Rico, her bracelet (from the young Filipino girl) falling to the ground. But Rico notices the dropped bracelet and pockets it. As they walk away, Tommy tells Rico that the ship will arrive in the morning, and they need to be at the docks very early.
At the culmination of the raid, Halloran and Roy have found the cellar where the trafficked children were kept. Halloran sees the chalk drawings Annie made, and tells Roy to have Samantha brought over immediately.
Kate, back at home, is checking another email from 'Jeff.' She notes that Jeff seems to like her, but hasn't yet asked her if she'd like to come over to see him. Mischa suggests she take initiative and 'pop the question' herself.
As Kate turns back to her computer, Meehan comes in to her apartment. He's here because he saw right through Kate's report on the Washington DC brothel raid. He knows that Kate let Viktor go instead of simply failing to catch and arrest him. Kate finally tells Meehan that he had told her to trust her instincts, and she believed Viktor's story that the traffickers had his daughter. Those instincts then spur her to tell Meehan the whole truth, including about her plan to infiltrate Karpovich's organization as a trafficked mail order bride.
Samantha Gray cries as she looks at the chalk drawings Annie made of her and her husband, and their house under a warm sun. Back upstairs, Tom Halloran interrogates Dr. Smith. He vows to plaster a mug shot of Smith all over American TV news for his wife and children to see. Terrified of what the future holds for him, Dr. Smith says he found the brothel through a patient of his. Halloran peers close into his eyes and asks, "Who's the patient?"
Meehan is delighted when Halloran reports that an American doctor nabbed in Manila raid named Sergei Karpovich as the one who gave him the phone number for the child brothel. And Kate has good news: She's gotten 'engaged' to Jeff; he's invited her to New York. Meehan is deeply concerned about this plan of Kate's, knowing it can go awry on any number of factors... among them, Karpovich knows of the pressure they're exerting on him, and second, Kate doesn't look as young as her profile claims. But Kate is still hopeful that 'Jeff' will see her as attractive enough that he'll bring her before Karpovich. She begs Meehan to let her follow through on the plan, feeling it's their best shot to positively put all the pieces together in a way that will stand up in court.
Viktor is at Kimmy's in Newark, helping with the overseeing of the girls there. He strikes up small talk with another overseer named Jimmy (Andreas Apergis), looking to find out a little about other houses in the network. But Jimmy says that Karpovich only trusts a very select few with this information, in case any of the local overseers are caught.
One of the dirty Manila cops calls Karpovich to discuss the raid. He assures Karpovich that Annie Gray was among the children that Tommy successfully escaped with. Karpovich then calls Tommy to grill him on the raid; the Manila brothel is yet another link in a very troubling chain that Karpovich feels is being gradually followed right to his own doorstep. Tommy gets noticeably nervous as he recalls having roughed up a woman (Ellen) who'd been causing him trouble. Karpovich's expression changes knowingly as he listens, and his assurance that he trusts Tommy like a brother doesn't sound overly genuine.
The crate with the trafficked children is being prepared for onloading onto the ship. Annie awakens and peers through an air vent, seeing the crane backing away. She pounds frantically on the metal wall of the crate, yelling for help, but in the bustle of the docks and the noise from the crane itself, nobody hears her.
In the bar room of Kimmy's, Jimmy starts to watch a video replay of the gang-bang video that Nadia was forced to star in. He tells Viktor that he should see it. Viktor looks at what the two men are doing to his daughter and becomes violently nauseous, having to run out of the room. A dark-haired girl Viktor helped bring in through Mexico, pours a cup of coffee for Titania and quietly asks about working her way up to an overseer role in hopes of avoiding Nadia's fate.
Tommy is on the phone while walking through the docks with Rico when he is suddenly shot and killed. Rico hides behind the shipping crates and runs off. Halloran and Roy are later investigating Tommy's murder and realize the children he helped smuggle might still be somewhere on the docks.
Viktor sees Andrei bringing Nadia back into Kimmy's. Andrei calls for Jimmy, with whom he is heading out to tend to another operation elsewhere. Andrei tells Viktor that he's heading to the airport to pick up new arrivals, and that Karpovich is coming soon, meaning Viktor will finally get to meet 'the boss.' Viktor leans in close and quietly asks Andrei if he can have an hour alone with the girl Andrei just brought in; who was in the video.
Viktor goes to the girls' quarters and roughly orders Nadia upstairs. Despite the tone of voice he uses, and calling Nadia a 'bitch,' the dark-haired girl notices the way that Viktor and Nadia look at each other.
Once in one of the private rooms upstairs, Viktor tries to reassure Nadia that he's working on a way to get her out. As Viktor comforts his crying daughter, neither of them are aware that the dark-haired girl has put her ear to the door, listening.
In Manila, the crate in which Annie and the other children are locked cannot be loaded due to incomplete paperwork; the dockworkers and supervisors are unaware of Tommy having been murdered. The crate, aside from air vents, also has a water tank so the children have water to drink. But without anyone knowing as of yet that the children are locked inside, their lives are still in jeopardy. A crane moves the crate elsewhere on the docks, and the fate of the children is starting to look grim. Annie appears more worried about the fate of the other children than she is about herself.
Kate is making herself up to look like the Russian mail order bride she's posing as. Even Mischa is quite surprised at the difference once Kate is done. He notes, however, that by looking into her eyes, he sees a lot more self-confidence than Kate should be showing. Kate pauses, refocuses and projects the proper demure, shy look. Meehan comes in then to bring her to the airport, and is stunned at the sight of her. Kate introduces herself as Katya in flawless Russian; while Meehan doesn't speak the language, he thinks that she sounded plenty real.
As Annie, starts to suffer from the heat and stuffiness inside the crate, Rico sits at home. A girl in his family comes up to him and finds Annie's bracelet in his pocket. Rico holds the bracelet and looks at the child thoughtfully. He opens his cell phone and makes a call, asking to speak to Captain Javiere.
Kate is driven to the airport. Meehan has all of the paperwork Kate needs for customs declarations. Plainclothes ICE agents will be in the crowd, watching her back. One of the technicians pins a small hair brooch with a listening device in Kate's hair, and a code-phrase is arranged as her 'panic signal' if things start to go wrong.
Kate goes to the docking port of the plane to be handed her luggage, appearing to 'debark' from a flight from Moscow like all the other passengers aboard. She goes through customs and is greeted by 'Jeff,' who turns out to be Jimmy. He makes some small talk with her while they head out of the terminal. He brings her to an SUV with Andrei at the wheel and a number of young women in the middle and rear seats, their faces streaked with tears and looking scared. Kate dutifully acts bewildered and frightened at she 'starts to realize' what is going on. The ICE van quickly makes note of the red SUV carrying Kate and tails it to Kimmy's strip club in Newark.
Andrei tells Viktor to take the girls downstairs through the back stairs to the girls' quarters. He and Kate very briefly glance at each other in recognition. It's raining heavily outside as Meehan's ICE van parks outside the back alley used to smuggle the trafficked girls in. Listening to Jimmy's voice as he hustles the girls toward their destination, Meehan is deeply concerned; even much more so when his agents say they've completely lost Karpovich's trail.
Jimmy yanks away one girl's purse. Kate leans forward to try and plead for him to show some mercy, and Jimmy grabs her hair roughly, warning her never to touch him. Jimmy's grip causes the bugged hair brooch to slip from Kate's hair and fall to the ground beside her. Meehan and his agents note the transmission go dead.
Kate puts on a good show of acting terrified, crying in fear as Jimmy roughly manhandles her. At that moment, Viktor tells Jimmy that Andrei wants him upstairs right away.
Meehan and the ICE technicians, busy trying to figure out from their end why Kate's brooch has stopped transmitting, are only vaguely aware of a motorcycle pulling into the back alley leading to Kimmy's rear service entrance.
Andrei starts to tell Jimmy that he didn't call for him to come upstairs, when he opens the rear service door. The helmeted motorcycle driver is Karpovich.
Kate notices that her brooch has fallen from her hair. Seeing it on the floor beside her, she tries to reach for it, but is stopped by one of the trafficking overseers.
Meehan tells an ICE response team to take advance positions. He gives a set amount of time for a location to be made on Karpovich before they go in without his presence. The gray van that had pulled in to a small parking area beyond Kimmy's lets out combat-geared agents who quickly mobilize all around the strip joint.
Karpovich looks over the new girls and happens to look closely at Kate/Katya. With one look at her face, he knows that she's too old to be part of the group of trafficked girls. Karpovich leans in close and asks in Russian why Kate lied about her age.
In the tension of the unfolding scene, Nadia has started to ease toward Viktor. She's just gotten behind him when the dark-haired girl, looking to establish a base of loyalty toward Karpovich in hopes of a 'bump upstairs,' quickly gives Karpovich and Andrei a warning that she believes Viktor and Nadia know each other from Nadia's homeland.
At that moment, in the ICE command van, one of the agents tells Meehan that the last known report on Karpovich said he might have left the parking lot where they'd lost sight of him, on a motorcycle. Meehan remembers the motorcycle that quietly drove into the rear alley and realizes that Karpovich is in the building right now. He orders the forward raid teams to storm in.
As the one who recruited Viktor, Andrei confronts him personally, threatening to force Viktor to watch Andrei cut Nadia up. Karpovich, in the meantime, is more focused on Kate, saying he doesn't believe her story either. With Andrei's back still to Kate, she takes a demure step forward before suddenly grabbing Andrei's revolver from his back waistband and pointing it point-blank at Karpovich's face, warning all the overseers that she will shoot him dead if any of them make a move.
Karpovich puts his hands up to show he's unarmed, but quickly grabs a 9mm from one of his overseers to shoot Kate. Kate gets the drop on him, however, wounding him. Andrei quickly grabs a power switch and cuts the lighting to the room to help Karpovich get away. At that moment, the ICE agents burst in. Andrei fires at one of them and is hit by return fire. Meehan, coming in behind the agents, sees Karpovich emerge from a secret escape into the alley where a team of ICE snipers hit him with several volleys of fire. Although severely wounded, Karpovich manages to turn around where he sees Kate still in the escape tunnel, and tries to shoot her. Kate shoots first, killing Karpovich.
Kate delivers a moving address before a packed news conference in the Department of Homeland Security's headquarters lobby. Behind Kate, a large screen monitor shows photographs taken of the work she helped accomplish. As Kate speaks, camera views show Annie Gray being rescued and rushed to a hospital for medical care, and Annie being reunited with her profoundly relieved parents. Kate is seen arresting Titania at an airport terminal. ICE raids more brothels and frees more girls. As Kate tells the news conference about the need to create a climate of hope for trafficking victims, she is seen distributing resident alien 'green card' papers and visas to the girls in protective custody from the original raid on Carlina's. Even Ludmilla breaks down in tears, touching her forehead to Kate's hand in a sign of gratitude. Kate is seen bringing a gift to Ivanka, now living at the safe house in America with Viktoria. In the final scene, Kate is seen looking in on the protective custody area, where Viktor is giving Nadia a pair of earrings that once belonged to his late wife.
Human Trafficking closes with images of people walking through crowded city streets, as a closing title caption announces that human trafficking is the third-most profitable criminal business in the world, with as many as 800,000 victims each year.