Backpage.com probably has the largest market for prostitution services in their escorts section. Not only is their escort and massage section a front for prostitution, but it’s been well known and proven that many of those escorts are human trafficking victims and underage victims. The CEO of Backpage, Carl Ferrer (55) was arrested in Houston after he arrived on a flight from Amsterdam. Law enforcement also searched Backpage’s Dallas headquarters. Ferrer is charged with pimping a minor, pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping. Two controlling shareholders of Backpage — Michael Lacey and James Larkin — also are charged with conspiracy to commit pimping.
More details on the arrest and the long sting operation of Backpage.
The California Department of Justice spent three years investigating Backpage, including with undercover agents posting ads, to confirm that the escorts ads were for the sole purpose of buying and selling sex. California’s attorney general, Kamala Harris, says that Backpage was “purposefully and unlawfully designed” as an online brothel. Her office alleges that the “vast majority” of Backpage’s profits come from fees paid by users posting ads in the “adult” section.
The investigation was prompted, in part, by reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of thousands of instances of child sex trafficking through Backpage.
Separately, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced this week that 17 people have been charged with running an international sex-trafficking ring that imported women from Thailand and forced them into the sex trade. The indictment alleges that the traffickers advertised the women on websites including Backpage.