How this badass ‘Walking Dead’ star busted sex traffickers IRL

As Andrea on The Walking Dead, actress Laurie Holden kicked a whole lot of ass to survive in the terrifying zombie-pocked wasteland of the dystopic future. But it turns out that in real life, Holden kicks even more ass, and not just the zombie kind.

A recent Nightline report reveled that Holden was instrumental in a dangerous undercover operation, led by former CIA agent Tim Ballard, to rescue a group of 55 sex trafficking victims. The organization, called Operation Underground Railroad, put together an enormous sting operation in order to lure Colombian sex traffickers away from their victims and rescue the girls, many of whom were still minors.

Sex trafficking remains a very real and horrible problem worldwide: Around two million children are trafficked every year, and trafficking is the fastest growing enterprise in the world. Operation Underground Railroad aims to rescue children who are kidnapped and sold into sex slavery.

The group organized for this particular sting involved regular civilians passionate about human rights enforcement who volunteered for the job, like Holden. (Other members include a door-to-door salesman and a Crossfit instructor.) One the daring moves they made was at an enormous, lavish bachelor party. Ballard pretended to be the best man looking to hire some teenage prostitutes for the party in Cartagena.

“Once the girls arrived, Holden’s job was to keep them occupied by the pool area while Ballard and the undercover officers worked to catch the traffickers on tape exchanging money. Colombian authorities quietly hid, waiting for Ballard’s go sign to move in and bust the party,” ABC reported.

Another wrinkle: In order for sex traffickers to be prosecuted in Colombia, the team had to produce evidence of them accepting money for girls on video. So a team of filmmakers documented the missions on hidden cameras, and the group’s bravery will not only provide proof of the traffickers’ actions to the authority, it will also be part of a new film called The Abolitionists. Holden was awesome on The Walking Dead, but this? This is her best role yet.

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