The first time Kevin Quinter helped rescue two young women from a sex trafficker in 2017, he clearly saw his calling as a police detective.
“I was just blown away, honestly, as a parent and even as a law enforcement officer,” he said. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy.’ I didn’t realize what was going on.”
Quinter’s area is Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, a small town in Berks County more than an hour’s drive from Philadelphia. But places like Wyomissing are just as susceptible to sex trafficking as big cities.
Quinter, who is also an avid cyclist, will be part of an eight-man relay team competing in the annual Race Across America event in June. They will ride in 15-minute sprint shifts from Oceanside, California, to Annapolis, Maryland, for 3,000 miles over six days. Their goal? Build awareness for ZOE International (gozoe.org), headquartered in Santa Clarita, California, and to raise money to help ZOE continue its global mission of preventing trafficking and rescuing and restoring trafficking victims.
As a detective, Quinter helped form a multijurisdictional task force that includes a Department of Homeland Security agent and has grown to 12 people. They partner to arrest traffickers and solicitors in their area of Pennsylvania and rescue young women and men from the devastating prison of trafficking.
“It’s not just something from the movie Taken where people in a third-world country are getting thrown into a van and forced into trafficking,” he said. “This was something that I felt like I could really make a difference in. And once we rescued a couple of women who were being trafficked, I was convinced this should be a priority.”
Arrests and rescues, many through sting operations, are only part of what is needed to aid trafficking victims, who are often manipulated through drugs by quasi boyfriends and family members.
“They give these kids everything they need to thrive again and restore them back to where they should be,” Quinter said. “There’s only so many things that I can do at work firsthand.”
“My faith is what gives me the motivation to sacrifice to help others,” Quinter said. “Then to team up with an organization like ZOE is an amazing thing. God works in great ways.”
Brad Ortenzi is a former detective in Pennsylvania who worked on child exploitation cases. He now serves as the Eastern USA Regional Director for ZOE, as manager of the Race Across America team and serves on the task force.
“I don’t think it’s by chance that I met Brad and that he came to our human trafficking task force,” Quinter said. “That I could team up with ZOE and be able to do this work of rescuing kids is a huge blessing.” Recently, the task force rescued a girl from Boston who was being trafficked in Quinter’s area. Law enforcement arrested the trafficker and charged him under the state’s new felony trafficking statutes. And the girl returned home to Boston where her dignity will be restored, and she will get a second chance at life.
“It’s not just rescuing,” Quinter said. “It’s restoring them back to who they are designed to be.”
To learn more about ZOE International, which operates in the U.S., Mexico, Thailand, Japan, and Australia, visit goZOE.org.