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(Most victims of human-trafficking are classified under ‘missing’, ‘runaways’, ‘domestic issues’, and etc. Many countries cannot even agree on what constitutes ‘human-trafficking’. By the time police do something, it is too late. Some desperate parents take matters into their own hands and get in over their heads. Not every father is an ex-special forces dad – that only happens in Hollywood!) 

“So, what’s this about wanting to go to Moscow?” Venkat loosened his tie and tossed it onto a dumbvalet. “You don’t know for sure whether Annette is there. Hell, Mike, you don’t know anyone there, you don’t speak the lingo, you’ve never been there and you’re months behind in alimony. I just received another demand from your ex’s lawyer.”

“I have to, the police can’t do much, don’t want to contact Interpol.”

“Look Mike, it’s not like that. Based on the facts,” he loosened his collar button and continued, “it seems Annette…well, looks like she took off on her own free will. What’s that, you’ve some pictures?”

Michael spread three glossy prints on the table, of Annette at the airport. She was in the arms of a smiling Caucasian man.

“This is the man she left with.” Michael repeatedly jabbed his finger on the pictures. “I’m sure he’d cheated her into following him, made use of her youth and gullibility.”

“Youth…gullibility…Hmm, you obviously don’t know what goes on out there. These look like CCTV grabs, where did you get these from?” Venkat raised his hands. “No, don’t tell me. I don’t want to be an accessory.”

“This Ruslan Kashin is not the kind of gorilla my Annette would associate with.”

“Gorilla, you say.” Venkat tilted his head and studied the smiling man. “He seems quite handsome really and they seem pretty intimate. How did you know his name?”

“The police told me. He must have kidnapped her.” Michael said.

“Your IO’s name is Sergeant Pang? He’s right. The families are usually the last to know.” The lawyer added. “Look, I still keep in touch with my ex colleagues in the force and the number of our young girls who get onto the internet, meet all sorts of scum and get into drugs, prostitution, petty gangsterism, it’s mind boggling I tell you.”

“Not my Annette.” Michael’s eyes turned red.

“Look Mike.” Venkat sighed. “Okay, let’s assume you’re right and this guy forced her to go with him. Even if you find Annette, what do you plan to do? If this Ruslan Kashin is a kidnapper, he’s probably not working alone. If these guys get wind you’re onto them, you put your life in danger; you put Annette’s life in jeopardy.”

“As soon as I locate them, I’ll go to the police.” Michael folded his arms tight.

“Hey, that’s a great thought.” Venkat came around and sat on the edge of his table. He planted one foot on the carpeted floor and let the other leg swing loose. “Look, so why don’t you leave it to the police Mike? They’re still your best bet. You’re not exactly Steven Segal. You’re Michael Liam but sorry to say, no Liam Neeson either. Look, I’ll write letters, put pressure –”

“I can’t Venkat. I simply can’t be doing nothing while my baby is –”

“You love her very much don’t you?”

“Of course I do, with my life!” Michael snapped. He bit his lips.

“Look Mike,” Venkat pointed a finger at his client, “continue with this madness and you might just pay for it with your life…and hers too.” The lawyer exhaled deep and sharp.

“I’m going Venkat, already taken leave, booked my ticket. Yvonne is helping with some cheap hotel or motel in Moscow.”

“What do you intend to do when you get there?” Venkat leaned forward, brought their faces close. “I mean, what would be the first thing you’ll actually do?”

“I don’t know. Contact a private eye, I suppose.” Michael averted his eyes.

‘What a splendid idea. I know a law firm here that represents Russian clients. I’m sure they know some reliable private eye. We’ll let them handle it and you remain in Singapore, okay.” Venkat raised his eyebrows. “Look Mike…okay?”

(An extract from Code Shield, A Peek Into Singapore’s Secret Services)