You could help recover abducted children

You could help recover abducted children

Off By Ed Hanna

After learning about failings in the international child recovery industry, Veteran, Darren Jordan, set up his own organisation, Pegasus Ops.

Pegasus Ops is involved in ‘child recovery’, which is quite a broad spectrum…
Aspects of Child recovery that we deal with include kidnappings (parental abductions, online grooming, county lines, criminal individuals and sex traffickers) and then there are missing children that could have gone missing from any of the previous examples or from running away from home.

A lot of people mistake parental abduction for a safe abduction, but I’ve known parental abductions get to the point where, because there are psychological elements involved and mental health involved, a parent will kidnap their own child and actually physically hurt them just to get a power play over the person that they’ve left behind, so that’s how serious parental abduction can be. 

Outside of that, obviously, you get into criminal individuals who want to do harm. It’s very complicated.

How was Pegasus Ops established?
When I got out of the Army, I started contracting in the private security industry in Iraq, Afghanistan, West Africa and in maritime security. A guy I knew got in touch with me and asked me to go give him fresh eyes on a site he was working on in Lebanon. I got over to Lebanon and it turned out to be one of the craziest cases that I’ve ever seen, since we were going up against Hezbollah. What I noticed was, first of all, the standards of the operators on the ground were terrible. When I met the owner of the company it was what we would class as ‘Walter Mitty’. I started working on more cases but I started to notice elements of fraud and profiteering from families that were victims of abduction. 

I left that company and started freelancing and this is when I started to come up with the concept of Pegasus Ops. The idea was to create a free service, or if not, the cheapest service possible, because families shouldn’t have to sell their houses or get massive loans and be left in financial ruin, while trying to get their children back. 

There are companies out there that don’t even go in on the ground, they take the money and then just bide their time, provide no evidence of what they’re doing and just continuously ask for more money. 

Who regulates or judges who is at fault in a complex case?
The industry is not regulated in any way whatsoever, which is what we’re planning to change. We analyse everything. When it comes to a parental abduction for example, we do a full investigation into that family before we even take the case. When it comes to a mother or father trying to hire us – and I do get clients wanting to hire us to get a power play – we have to figure out if a parent is running away from domestic abuse and obviously saving the child, etc. We do a full investigation, and we get all the court documents. They then go through the Hague Abduction Convention (treaty). The Hague decides if they get a return order or not, but we still have to be careful because we don’t know what the background is so then we do psychological analysis and we do criminal records checks and all this sort of stuff. That’s when we’re able to go in. We decide whether we’re going to use the authorities to assist us, or whether we’re going to have to go in by ourselves like the Lebanon case… That was clear cut because they were being held against their will under armed protection from Hezbollah – but when it comes to a case in Europe, you have to be very careful as to how you treat it.

So you’re not armed vigilantes?
We didn’t have guns in Lebanon, for example. If we get to the point where we use violence then we’re failing at our job, because obviously we’re very covert and we analyse every detail. The investigation and the intel gathering is more important than anything else in our operation. 

We don’t carry weapons, we don’t commit violence, we don’t snatch kids. If it’s a parental abduction for example, it’s the parent that will actually pick up their child. We will never touch a child, because then obviously, that’s kidnapping. 

Realistically, only a Veteran could do this job…
I only brought the company over to the UK last year, so we’re in our first year of growth. The idea is that we get to the point where we’ll have a 24-hour operations room running. I plan to get four to six teams together in the next 12 months which means we’ll be looking for operators. My prime focus is (to work with) Veterans because obviously, we’ve got the hostile environment experience and our standards are a lot higher than in most of the world. Eventually, I want to be changing government policies and the way that authorities deal with things as well as working alongside authorities. We also need to bring in the police elements as well, because the police elements have the surveillance, the investigations experience, not that the military don’t have it, but they do have elements that they can actually bring and teach us.

Do you run the organisation in a Military manner?
There are two sides to the company. The first side is the child recovery aspect, which is my prime focus and the second, is the security side. 

We aim for high-net-worth clients to do close protection work with, event security, even travelling with clients. That’s where we make our money. 

We’re able to get guys into work and then say, ‘Right I need an operator for this’ and then we can pick them out and match them to the recovery side.

You must be using all manner of skills that you acquired during your Military experience, what does a typical day look like?
There’s the planning, the organisation, and utilising those people around you to their strengths. 

Why swap one dangerous career for an even more dangerous career?
The way I see it is that currently there’s this stigma around Veterans that are leaving the Army. People think that Veterans are ‘broken’. What they don’t see is that in the Military we’re taken and we’re put into extreme situations and we literally reach beyond our own limits. That only rewires your brain to be more advanced. Rather than taking a guy out of the Military who has gone to the top of his game, and then putting him into a supermarket as a security guard, why not utilise those skills for the greater good? There’s probably nobody else going after these kids. Why waste our skills that cost millions of pounds to develop within the Military?

We’re not at the point where the police will refer to us yet but that’s something I’m working towards. For example, search and rescue teams are already privately contracted to the police, and they’re the experts… When it comes to child abductions, that’s where we want to be.

I would say that it’s heartening that people are recognising it but the reason that I describe it as an industry is because it’s an industry that already exists. Companies are doing it solely for profit and they are ripping parents off. What we’re trying to do is to change all of that; shut those companies down, stop them from doing it by providing that free service.