Backpage CEO Arrested for Pimping, Child Prostitution

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Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer is dealing with extradition to California after showing in a Texas courtroom Friday on expenses his firm earned hundreds of thousands of {dollars} by selling grownup and little one prostitution via escort commercials run on the location.

The courtroom look got here a day after Ferrer’s arrest in Houston. He had simply returned from the Netherlands to the headquarters of his Dallas-based firm, which officers stated is the biggest advertiser of grownup escort companies within the U.S.

“ appears to have knowingly and willingly allowed ladies and kids to be expoited in return for its personal monetary acquire,” stated Texas Legal professional Basic Ken Paxton at a press convention asserting the arrest. “I intend to offer each useful resource accessible to ensure this firm and the people who function it may by no means once more do enterprise within the state of Texas.”

Undercover Probe

The arrest adopted an investigation led by California Legal professional Basic Kamala Harris and the California Division of Justice, which investigated the agency for 3 years utilizing undercover brokers who responded to escort adverts and organized conferences with individuals who had marketed on the location.

Ferrer and the 2 house owners of Backpage, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, have been charged in Sacramento Superior Court docket with conspiring to commit pimping via Backpage and two further web sites, Evil Empire and BigCity, in keeping with courtroom filings.

Backpage generated about US$2 million a month in bank card funds between Oct. 2014 and Might 2015, in keeping with the grievance.

Warrants have been issued for Lacey and Larkin, however they haven’t but been arrested, Kristen Ford, a spokesperson for Harris’s workplace, instructed the E-Commerce Instances on Friday.

The Backpage operation has created web sites in native cities all through the nation, together with greater than 30 in California since 2010, in keeping with Harris’s workplace.

From January 2013 to March 2015, 99 p.c of the corporate’s income got here from escort adverts, based mostly on the California investigation.

Unhealthy Enterprise

Ferrer’s arrest may very well be the start of the tip for Backpage, instructed Rick Edmonds, media enterprise analyst on the Poynter Institute.

“It’s onerous to foretell, since i don’t know what protection they could supply,” he instructed the E-Commerce Instances. “Nonetheless, it has the flavour of a cautious investigation by a significant state’s legislation enforcement equipment, so it might cripple or shut the enterprise.

A giant a part of this story is the involvement of Lacey and Larkin, who have been among the many unique founders of the Phoenix New Instances and later based Village Voice Media, Edmonds added.

“Arguably, these guys have been as soon as the kings of the alt-weekly area, and that is fairly sordid stuff for once-respected publishers,” he noticed.

Ferrer and Backpage have been topic to prior investigations into little one intercourse trafficking. Backpage was cited for civil contempt after Ferrer failed to seem at a listening to final November of the U.S. Senate Everlasting Subcommittee on Investigations.

Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., respectively the chair and rating member of the committee, stated the committee’s bipartisan probe of trafficking led proper to Backpage utilizing its commercials to take advantage of ladies and kids to herald hundreds of thousands in income.

“We actually want that Backpage had willingly cooperated with our investigation,” the senators stated in a press release. “Regardless of its refusal to take action, our investigation was the primary to uncover Backpage’s apply of modifying adverts in method that serves to hide prison exercise.”

The committee will proceed its probe.

Legal professional Steven Ross, who represented Backpage in the course of the Senate hearings, was not instantly accessible for remark.

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