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Backpage.com Shut Down by Federal Bureau of Investigation


PHOENIX - Federal law enforcement authorities are in the process of seizing online classified site Backpage.com and its affiliated websites. The FBI confirmed that "law enforcement activity is occurring". The total number of defendants named in the sealed indictment is not now public information. It also has had listings for adult escorts and other sexual services, and authorities say advertising related to those services has been extremely lucrative.

A founder of a 45-year-old alternative weekly newspaper in Phoenix has been charged in the apparent culmination of a federal human-trafficking investigation. The three deny the charges.

In 2016, Backpage's CEO Carl Ferrer was arrested in Houston on pimping charges, states NPR; they were later dismissed.

On Friday, an e-label was posted on an online classifieds website, saying it had been detained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. post inspectors and the IRS. This didn't provide much of an explanation, but promised a statement from the Department of Justice as of 6 p.m. EST. In the posting about the seizure, the department had originally said more information would be made public on Friday evening. The FBI clearly feels that there was enough evidence to warrant the backpage.com shutdown, and insists that the site may have been used for nefarious purposes. It's a huge step. "Now no child will be sold for sex through this website", tweeted Senator Heidi Heitkamp.

Last month, however, the Senate approved bipartisan legislation called the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.

President Donald Trump will sign the bill into law next week, said Heitkamp. Backpage has been criticized for years over sex trafficking on its personals and classified sections.

Читайте также: Former South Korean President Park Found Guilty of Abusing Power

"Shutting down the largest online USA marketplace for sex trafficking will dramatically reduce the profitability of forcing people into the commercial sex trade, at least in the short term", Bradley Myles, chief executive of Polaris, an global anti-slavery group, told the media.

There would be "a dramatic shift in the marketplace starting tonight", he added.

This isn't the first time Backpage has run into issues with the law.

Court documents say some women were forced into it, through threats or intimidation, and that several were children, some as young as 14.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recently testified before Congress that almost three-quarters of the cases it has reviewed are linked to ads on Backpage.

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