Backpage.com co-founder pleads guilty -US Justice Department

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The Texas Attorney General's Office announced Thursday that Backpage.com has pleaded guilty to human trafficking in Texas less than a week after federal officials permanently shut down the online classifieds site.

In 2015, the state filed charges against the company for pimping and money laundering, but the case was thrown out the following year.

His admissions came amid the cascade of developments against Backpage.com founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin.

"Taking down Backpage and obtaining a criminal conviction for the company and its CEO represents a significant victory in the fight against human trafficking in Texas and around the world", Paxton said in a statement. It also executed a search warrant on the Dallas headquarters of Backpage, uncovering evidence that was critical in building a case against Ferrer and the company. Additionally, the business pleaded guilty to human trafficking.

Backpage - accused of being the biggest website for prostitution in the world, with its classifieds used to promote paid-for sex with minors and victims of human trafficking - was abruptly shut down by U.S. authorities on April 6.

A federal subcommittee in 2017 went further in a scathing report alleging Backpage concealed its criminal conduct by sanitizing its adult ads and stripping words and terms such as "lolita", "rape", "amber alert" and "school girl" that could tip authorities to sex trafficking and child sex trafficking - all under Ferrer's direction.

Hamilton Police also add that there are still multiple sources that can be used to advertise sexual services and that often sex trade workers will create links to their Facebook page or other social media sites.

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Backpage.com is pleading guilty to human trafficking charges in Texas, according to a release from the Texas Attorney General's office.

Calls to the defendants' attorneys were not immediately returned Tuesday, but critics of the website have hailed the arrests.

Although he has agreed to testify against other executives at Backpage, the California plea agreement indicates that Ferrer will face up to five years in prison; sentences handed down in Arizona and Texas would run along the same time period.

In October 2016, Attorney General Paxton's Law Enforcement Division arrested Ferrer in Houston.

"Backpage has earned hundreds of millions of dollars from facilitating prostitution and sex trafficking, placing profits over the well-being and safety of the many thousands of women and children who were victimized by its practices", said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. unusual.

The US Congress passed a bill last month that allows victims of sex trafficking to seek justice against website owners who knowingly promote or facilitate the practice.

The agreements were published one day after President Trump signed anti-sex-trafficking legislation into law on Wednesday.

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