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In New Book, Whistle-Blower Alleges U.S., UN Involvement In Bosnian Sex Trafficking

Kathryn Bolkovac: "There were some pretty incredible incidents that occurred, which I still really can't believe."Kathryn Bolkovac: "There were some pretty incredible incidents that occurred, which I still really can't believe."
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Kathryn Bolkovac: "There were some pretty incredible incidents that occurred, which I still really can't believe."
Kathryn Bolkovac: "There were some pretty incredible incidents that occurred, which I still really can't believe."
By Daisy Sindelar
In 1998, divorced and with her three children grown, Kathryn Bolkovac, a police officer in the western U.S. state of Nebraska, was looking for a change.

So she applied to join the UN's International Police Task Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The IPTF, created in the wake of the 1995 Dayton peace accords, was tasked with monitoring and training local law enforcement bodies during the uneasy years that followed the Bosnian war.

Shortly after her arrival in Bosnia, Bolkovac was deployed to the city of Zenica, where she was put in charge of a project aimed at fighting violence against women. Soon after, she encountered a battered young woman who was not from the Balkans but from Moldova.

The woman, Viktoria, spoke neither English nor Bosnian, and could not explain what had happened to her. But she was able to point Bolkovac in the direction of a local nightclub, called the Florida. Bolkovac, joined by a translator and a member of the local police, headed to the club.

"We started looking around. The place was open. And I found behind the bar an actual metal box which had passports and U.S. dollars in it," Bolkovac says. "And the passports were of numerous East European girls. And so at that point in time was when I started getting quite suspicious that obviously this girl as well as others had been held captive there.

"And we then looked around and walked the perimeter of the place and found an exterior staircase to a locked door on the second floor, and upon forcing that door open discovered seven more girls were being held captive there. And it was quite distressing. They were obviously being held against their will, locked in, no passports of their own. And that's kind of where it all started."

'Progressively Worse'

What Bolkovac had stumbled upon, she quickly realized, was a sex-trafficking ring, operated by the Serbian mafia and trading in girls from Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania, some as young as 12 years old.

And the U.S. dollars in the metal box in the Florida added another sinister link -- the possibility that the clientele for the trafficked girls were Americans working in Bosnia, potentially even Bolkovac's own fellow police officers.

Her suspicions soon proved true. As more and more people heard of Bolkovac's work, trafficking victims and Bosnian investigators began to step forward to share what they knew.

Again and again, the evidence suggested that American and other international contractors were having sex with underage trafficking victims or even buying them outright. In some cases, she said, the men were not even bothering to hide it.

"The cases got progressively worse, involving all internationals -- military, IPTF, civilian employees -- until I actually had a U.S. contractor who was an American police officer working with me actually tell me that he had purchased a woman outright from one of the bar owners right outside Sarajevo, and taken her home to keep and to marry and to take back to the States with him." she says. "But she ran away [and stole] his mobile phone, and that really upset him. So, yeah, there were some pretty incredible incidents that occurred, which I still really can't believe."

Immune From Prosecution

Alarmed by what she saw, Bolkovac -- who has detailed her experiences in Bosnia in a new memoir, "The Whistleblower," soon to be released as a film -- sent repeated reports up the chain of command. Some investigations reached as high as the office for the UN special representative to Bosnia, Jacques Paul Klein. But time and again, her reports were ignored or summarily dismissed as "solved," although the details of the "solution" were never shared with her.

Slowly, Bolkovac says, she began to see the difficulties of cracking down on international contractors who were not held to any law -- U.S., Bosnian, or military. She and fellow members of the international police corps were effectively immune from prosecution. In a chaotic postwar country with flourishing trafficking rings, she says, the combination of freedom and immunity made for a "precarious" situation.

Increasingly, she directed her anger at her own immediate employer, a company called DynCorp, which had won the U.S. State Department's $15 million contract for hiring American personnel for Bosnia.

According to Bolkovac, DynCorp had been far from scrupulous in screening its American applicants, sometimes allowing in personnel with little experience or questionable histories. The end result, she said, was a group where some members fell all too easily into the local criminal scene.

"Certainly, the [Balkan] mafia is very well organized and they've infiltrated many facets of the international community, that's no secret. And of course they're involved in trafficking and in making a good bang for their buck," Bolkovac says. "But the idea that international police officers are involved in this is so disturbing to me. That's what I think is the most disturbing.

"Of course, coming from a policing background, you expect corruption. And we certainly expected corruption to be in Eastern Europe and in Bosnia. But once again, I would think the vetting process for recruiting police officers, especially from the United States, would be a bit better by our State Department than what it is for these contractors."

Demoted, Then Fired

After less than two years on the job, Bolkovac was demoted and then summarily fired for gross misconduct, a charge she says was meant to cover up her employers' discomfort over her allegations. She finally was forced to flee the country, carrying a bag packed with her investigative reports, after it was determined there was a probable threat to her life.

Bolkovac successfully sued DynCorp for wrongful termination. DynCorp went on to dismiss seven of its employees in Bosnia for "unacceptable behavior" and publicized internal efforts to reform its screening mechanisms.

But the sex-trafficking scandal has not prevented DynCorp from winning a number of lucrative State Department contracts, including similar police-training missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. The company has faced accusations of massive misconduct in those countries as well.

In Iraq, DynCorp is believed to have squandered more than $1 billion in U.S. government funds. And a U.S. diplomatic cable published by the WikiLeaks website suggests that DynCorp workers employed to train Afghan policemen had been witnessed taking drugs and paying for young "dancing boys," or child prostitutes.

DynCorp authorities have defended their company's performance in both Iraq and Afghanistan and have taken steps to encourage a more transparent and disciplined corporate culture.

Looking The Other Way

Bolkovac says she believes her work has helped raise awareness of human trafficking in the Balkans. But she's less certain it's had any impact on the lawlessness that still exists within the international contractor system.

"I don't believe that every person going over there who are employed by the contractors, the international community, or even the State Department are involved in this. I think it's, at the max, 10 to 20 percent of these people who are involved in these crimes," she says.

"But the problem is that the other 80 percent who aren't involved aren't doing anything to stop it. And they're looking the other way. It's like these people, when they go overseas, because they're 5,000 miles away from home, think they're not going to get caught. And many of them don't, and many of them continue."

Daisy Sindelar

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Sex Trafficking Must End from: www.hopeforthesold.com
February 09, 2011 20:27
Wow. I wrote a post recently -http://bit.ly/DynTraff - about this very issue, but sounds like I have so much more to learn through Bolkovac. So sad how she got treated as a result. This is a clear demonstration of how organized this form of crime really is.
In Response

by: Turgai
February 11, 2011 13:41
Disgusting, but I'm not surprised. Expats play prominent roles in certain prostitution rings in Bishkek and Tashkent too.

Now that we're at it: where are those who are always so keen to point at "the-oppression-of-women-in-Islam"?

by: Taxpayer from: USA
February 10, 2011 03:20
It seems that this site would publish anything as long as it can be blamed on Serbs.

So, we are suppose to believe that after a NATO war against Serbian population that reduced the number of Serbs living in this municipality from 15% in 1991 to 5% in 2005 (with 85% Muslims who fought against the Christian Serbs) the "Serbian" mafia somehow managed to operate and sell girls from other Christian countries to the victorious NATOnazis.

And now these contractors and police officers are back in the US with their security clearances singing God Bless America and protecting us from "Serbian" terrorists...

I bet that bar had a streaming video feed to Al-Qaida.
In Response

by: Abdulmajid
February 10, 2011 17:04
I have read your other anti-Muslim venom on the Caucasus conflict and I can tell you that if I knew such a simpleton with such evil fascist and inhuman ideas like you personally then I would love to return him only a fraction of the evil he (you) wish on my people and even that would be too much to bear.
According to you since the Serbs are the good ones and teh victims in teh Bosnain war and us Mooslims are the evil ones, then General Mladic should not be persecuted for slaughtering 8,347 people at Srebrenica but maybe given teh Corngressional Medal of Honor, right? And the Legion d'Honneur, right? And the Victoria Cross!
And about Bosnia I can tell you only thtis: The Cross weill NEVER chase teh Crescent out of Bosni!
In Response

by: Ivan from: France
March 03, 2011 04:02
AAbdulMajid,

Southern Sudan is done, all Arabic countries burns actually,
Even war in Bosnia and Kosovo you didn’t win, even with help from all NATO and other IslamoFischist countries. Nobody is afraid of you, you and your Islamist friend you are just good to kill women and children, or take hostages inside a hospital. Disgusting....and without honor.......
In Response

by: Thomas from: Australia
February 11, 2011 04:32
"Taxpayer", the local mafia have no ethnic loyalties - their loyalty is to making money. That is how Serb and other Balkan mafia can operate seamlessly across the whole of Eastern Europe and beyond.

As an example, look at the assassination of Croat media baron Ivo Pukanic because he was exposing the local mafia. This led to the former Yugoslav republics to put in place an extradition treaty for all crimes except war-crimes.

As for NATO intervention, can you blame NATO when Serbia sent tanks to first Slovenia, then Croatia, then Bosnia and finally tried to ethnically cleanse Kosovo.

As for Serbian mafia, we have problems with Serbian mafia here in Australia. There is one celebrated case where Serbian crime gangsters at the behest of an Albanian crime boss were to kidnap then liquidate some Turkish rivals in the drug trade. The assassination did not go as planned and one of the Serbs had to dropped of at hospital. With his Serb accomplices fleeing the botched job, the Albanian crime boss, in order to come up with a story to explain why his place was bullet ridden with dead bodies, he shot himself through the gut? and claimed he had been victim of home invasion. The police did not believe his story because of the blood trails, bullet trajectories and the fact that he had been shot in the same way before at another crime scene.

Who would have known that when Milosevic elevated the criminal milieu to silence domestic dissent, that years later Serbia would be a net exporter of mafia.

by: monika from: us
February 10, 2011 22:40
This is absolutely true, and all three sides in the war did it. There was a market in Brcko, called the Arizona Market -- it was set up by the international forces to encourage the different factions to mingle. Women from Eastern Europe were sold there for 1,500 DM. Everyone knew about it, no one did anything. DynCorp and Kellogg Brown and Root were the biggest buyers. They should be brought up on charges...but they won't be.

by: Taxpayer from: USA
February 11, 2011 00:56
Abdulmajid,

Please don't assign me positions that I don't hold - I think you are misreading my posts as "anti-Muslim". Also, it's a bad idea in a discussion to put your words in somebody's mouth - I didn't say anything close to what you wrote.

Since you obviously know a lot about that region, please honestly tell us - would Serbians be allowed to run a mafia ring after their community in that place was reduced to almost nothing?

I doubt it, but I might be wrong and I do have people who were there (not locals) to check your answer.

In any case I always thought that mafiosi thugs don't have ethnicity or religion - they will kill anybody for the most profitable business (like organ transplantation rings in Kosovo, right?) so they should not be characterized by this "Leberty" site as "Serbian" or whatever other religious or ethnic name especially on my dime.
In Response

by: M from: USA/Tajikistan
February 11, 2011 08:01
So, my fellow taxpayer, why don't you care more about the US contractors pimping on your dime? That is, a much bigger dime than RFERL can ever dream of. I think you've missed the point, by a longshot....
In Response

by: Taxpayer from: USA
February 12, 2011 03:03

I do care about the US contractors shameful actions too - I think I wrote about it.

My point was that calling the mafiosi "Serbian" was an intentional distraction embedded into this article on purpose as could be seen in most of the publications on this site. Let's allow Konstantin from LA to litter this topic until it dies.
In Response

by: Abdulmajid
February 11, 2011 17:24
Well, your posts about Greater Armenia which you placed under the reports on the Arab revolution say enough; so then of course you have to support the serbofascists and talk about "NATO = Nazis" I think the serbofascists are just as bad as the Nazis, and some Islamophobes are even worse than the Nazis for they are blabbing about nuking the Mooslims. THAT is no longer "freedom of expression"; that's fascism. As to the Serb mafia, I think Thomas from Australia has already answered that one; and as for why Zenica has only a small proportion of Serbs 1) there never were many around there for starters; 2) the Bosnian government never ordered nor committed acts of ethnic cleansing on the same scale as the Bosnian Serbs! That individuals expelled their Serb neighbors as revenge for their relatives being expelled from other places can't be compared to the premeditated and meticulously planned campaign with which the Serbs tried to exterminate the Bosniaks.the Serb army, despite being the third largest and heviest equipped in Europe obviously was no good, that's why they sent out all kinds of criminals and thugs from Belgrade to kill and rape Bosniaks; Arkan was one of the worst. Of course there are also mafiosi on the Bosniak side and of course they feel no compunction in cooperating with the Serbs. That's why the mafia networks in the Western Balkans cooperate quite well with each other. Some of them got so notorious the Bosniaks themselves had to liquidate them, like Juka Jusuf Prazina. And good riddance.about the Bosniaks, Karadzic himself said so "You will take your people to Hell" and "These people will disappear from the Earth" That's what he said, that's what he wanted, and many people in and outside Bosnia agree with him. What is really disgusting is how lots of outsiders obviously do not find anything wrong with the genocidal Serb anti-Muslim crusade, that includes UN and other foreign officials in Bosnia with an Orthodox background, they have an anti-Bosniak bias, and they all try to justify it and whitewash their support for genocide with false claims that "Bosnia is an al Qaida basis, the Bosniaks support terrorists, they are all terrorists, jihadists, fundamentalists" blah blah blah. I am so sick and tired of hearing crude anti-Muslim jingoism in the style of not just Goebbels but more like Julius Streicher, which appeals to the basest instincts! Of course the anti-Muslims will then deny they ever said such things. The worst is when I read some insulting babble on how many innocent lives Muslims have destroyed along their 1400 year existnce (some say 1.400. 000 million, where do they have pulled that number out) when it is well known how bloody the conquest of almost eh whole world by the European nations was, including the destruction of native American cultures, the slave trade, the colonial wars, both world wars, the Vietnam war, all of which were not started nor waged by Muslims. So how 'bout you left us Mooslims IN PEACE?
In Response

by: Taxpayer from: USA
February 12, 2011 03:19

Abdulmajid,

I don't think I ever mentioned "Greater Armenia" in that discussion. Again, please don't try to place your words in other people mouths.

I understand you have a lot to say about that conflict - my point was much narrower - I didn't like how REFRL was quick to blame Serbs on this slave trade because we all know who was enslaved and who was trading slaves during the Ottoman rule of that part of the world.

In my posts on the Arab revolution I was trying to explain that in my examples the conflicts were not between Christians and Muslims, but rather between the nomadic Turkic civilization and different settled civilizations they harassed.

I think that many settled Arabs and Iranians suffered from the same clash of civilizations during the nomads' yoke in the Ottoman Empire times.

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
February 11, 2011 04:38
You both could be not that much out-lied,
One pointing out planed Serbia repopulations,
By Croatians, Albanians and Muslims, another as cried
About War Crimes of driven mad Serbs, by annexations,
If before the war started - both dare go to United Nations
To reverse "Mashtrih" - Germo-Austro-Brito-Russo pact.

But being affraid of Emperors Serbs, or hoping for more
Slovenians, Croatians, Muslims and other pro-Germans
Would kiss-up to imperial resurectors or wait for the doe,
One from Rashka another from Fritcka - being dormant.
In Response

by: Abdulmajid
February 12, 2011 01:07
Huh???
In Response

by: Alex from: Seattle
February 14, 2011 23:46
There once was a poet,
who stunk at rhythm and rhyme,
he rambled on endlessly,
hey look, I see a shiny new dime!

by: André Simonyi from: Ottawa
February 16, 2011 07:19
Sad, that afetr all this years, an article that speaks of the terror lived by people instigate a conflict through comments!?! The point is not the Muslims, Serbs, Croats, but rather the international contractors. And even more important, the victims. So, shouldn't we just stop the bickering and focus on the scum, regardless where they come from?
In Response

by: Abdulmajid
February 16, 2011 19:42
Well, what can I say? You are right, but I must object that someone tries to whitewash the side that commited most of the crimes in Bosnia and that was the aggressor (because Bosiaks did not invade Serbia!) and that those same continue to challenge the Bosniaks' rightt o exist, to their country, their identity and their history. Serb and Bosniak mafias get along very well; and the fact that many of these women come from Ukraine, Moldova and other such places located t the East of Bosnia means of course that Serb mafia is implicated in this white slavery because Serbia lies to the East of Bosnia and the "RS" is also the northern and eastern parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina so all transit routes must pass through Serb or Serb-held territory. But this does not mean that the Serbs are particularly evil. If the above comments object to the fact that teh Bosniak or Romanian or Moldovan mafias are not namend, well, yes, that's right but I haven't seen that here the Serbs were particularly singled out. It's a matter of geography, not politics.
Yes, one should focus on the victims; but unfortunately white slavery always has existed and always will; of course it must be fought with all means. But police measures will not suffice. One gets the impresion that the Bosnian and the Serbian authorities are somewhat more successful in protecting their women from being enslaved, or else there wouldn't be a need for those slave traders to bring in girls from Moldova or Ukraine. Nevertheless it is despicable. It is not a matter of nationality.
And another thing: the pimps who recruit those girls always tell them the same stories and the girls always fall for these stories (that they will be employed as waotressews or dancers). Why this self-delusion? because they want to believe it? Because of poverty and despair? That is a problem that has been insufficiently addressed. The white slavers wouldn't have it so easy were it not so that a majorioty of people in those countries still lives in abject poverty and without any perspectives.
Of course that Bosnia has been torn apart like that makes it easy for all kind of criminals to operate with impunity, and were it a normal, and not a divided country it would be much more difficult for organized crime to operate at will.

by: Hunish from: Canada
February 21, 2011 20:22
I have flow to Moldova and always found it very odd that there was a large portion of young female travelers flying alone.

Why do so many people look the other way?

Why do governments not realize it is the young women that nurture societies next generation?

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