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University of Missouri

Intern vs. Ringleader

During a two‐month internship, Marques Williams identified a human trafficking ringleader.

Marques Williams

Marques Williams found his passion for government service while cracking a human trafficking case during a U.S. State Department internship in China. Photo by Rob Hill.

Marques Williams is pretty sure his bosses thought they were giving him busywork. He was two weeks into a summer 2014 internship with the U.S. State Department in Guangzhou, China, when he was assigned to investigate a human trafficking ring case that had been cold for two years.

Williams, BS ’14, of Florissant, Missouri, was working in the fraud prevention office at the U.S. Consulate. His regular duties were to track trends in fraudulent activity and identify fake or dishonest visa documents and applications. He was also to sift through the trafficking files for fresh leads. Each time he thought he’d found something new, his bosses told him it had already been investigated. Until one day he uncovered a mistaken identity. “Did you know this person is actually this [other] person?” he asked. They didn’t. The discovery cracked open the case.

For the first time, I stayed late and came early just to figure it out,” he says. “At the end of two months, not only did a I get a picture [of the ringleader] but a name and [location of] where she was.”

Williams is a first‐year master’s student in the Truman School of Public Affairs. His experiences in China — he also spent a semester at Beijing Language and Culture University as an undergraduate — cemented his desire to work for the federal government.

I found a passion for figuring out who’s doing what and why and stopping it,” he says. “It came natural to me.”

The work was so rewarding, Williams says, that he gained a career insight: “I want a job I love so much I’d do it for free.”