Backpage.com Made $500 Million From Prostitution, Say Prosecutors

Backpage.com Made $500 Million From Prostitution, Say Prosecutors

The Texas and California attorneys general worked together to find evidence that adult and child sex trafficking victims were forced into prostitution, Breitbart Texas reported. Last Friday, the Department of Justice seized Backpage, and it can no longer be used by criminals to promote and facilitate human trafficking.

According to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Ferrer has agreed to assist in the prosecution of Backpage's co-founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin, shut down the site worldwide, and hand over the site's data to law enforcement.

Ferrer has also agreed in his California plea to take down every Backpage-affiliated website that he can within five days and forfeit all Backpage-related domains within 14 days.

Paxon called Thursday's pleas "a significant victory in the fight against human trafficking in Texas and around the world". It found that Backpage.com had aided the sex trafficking of women and girls by removing terms such as "lolita", "teenage", "rape", "young", "amber alert", "little girl", "teen", "fresh", "innocent", and "school girl" from ads before posting them on its site.

Court documents unsealed on Thursday show that Ferrer's plea process began earlier this month when he pleaded guilty to money laundering in a federal court in Phoenix.

The guilty pleas by the company and 57-year-old CEO Carl Ferrer were made on April 5, but were unsealed late Thursday afternoon.

"I have always been aware that the great majority of these advertisements are, in fact, advertisements for prostitution services (which are not protected by the First Amendment and which are illegal in 49 states and in much of Nevada)". The U.S. Justice Department also seized and shut down the website used to prominently advertise escorts and massages, among other services and some goods for sale.

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Ferrer was arrested at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston in October 2016 after arriving on a flight from Amsterdam, accused of running a "pimping conspiracy".

Under the California plea agreement, Ferrer will cooperate in prosecuting Backpage.com's creators and will serve no more than five years in state prison.

His cooperation in the ongoing investigation into Backpage could lead to other criminal charges against individuals associated with the company, according to the attorney general. The FBI has done this before with other sex trafficking websites and online pharmacies.

The most serious of the charges carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison, the official added.

In his admission statement, Ferrer admitted that he conspired with other Backpage officials to facilitate prostitution crimes being committed by users of the site.

The site was the dominant hub for sex workers to advertise their services, and it had come under increasing scrutiny in recent years as the U.S. government made efforts to crack down on sex trafficking with legislation like the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA), which President Trump signed this week.

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