Seized By Feds

Sunday, 08 Apr, 2018

Screenshot of website on April 6, 2018.

In court filings previous year, Backpage revealed that it was being investigated by a grand jury in Phoenix, where the site was originally launched as part of the New Times alternative weekly newspaper chain.

But its most lucrative service is in sex, with listings for adult escorts and other sex services.

Carl Ferrer, the Backpage CEO, was arrested in Texas in 2016, according to the Wall Street Journal. Details of the charges, however, were sealed, and an attorney for Lacey couldn't provide any more specifics in an interview with the Arizona Republic Federal authorities also raided Lacey's home in Sedona, Ariz. After Craigslist stopped hosting erotic services ads in 2010, Backpage's ad volume grew by 50 percent. Backpage considered that move an economic opportunity. Last year, the website blamed years of pressure from the U.S. government as the reason it shut down its adult ads category. "It is an opportunity for us".

Backpage has been under increasing scrutiny over its personal ads. The legislation, featured prominently in the popular Netflix documentary I am Jane Doe, amends the Communications Decency Act, which has shielded website operators from state criminal charges or civil liability if they facilitate sex ads or prostitution.

► August 4: Who's buying sex?

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said in a statement Friday that the apparent seizure of the website "marks an important step forward in the fight against human trafficking".

Ferrer, 55, was charged with pimping a minor, pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping, according to NPR. "Now, no child will be sold for sex through this website".

She said she and other advocates had worked for years to get Backpage to change its business model, but the company consistently refused.

The FBI and Department of Justice didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. The announcement by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that they have seized this website and affiliated sites is long overdue, but another positive step forward in the fight against human trafficking.

In the documents surrounding the shutdown, there is information from 17 victims who all claim they were forced into sex trafficking - with some of them being children. A Phoenix FBI official said there was "law enforcement activity" at Lacey's home, but referred further inquiries to the Justice Department.