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Backpage CEO pleads guilty to conspiracy, money laundering

15 April 2018
Backpage CEO pleads guilty to conspiracy, money laundering

Among other claims, the report said that Backpage.com was editing the language on its site to strip out terms that were related to underage girls before the ads were posted in the adult section.

Ferrer then traveled to Sacramento where he pleaded guilty to money laundering once more and was released on bond.

"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", Attorney General Paxton said.

He also says he conspired with others at Backpage.com to launder the proceeds from such ads after credit card companies and banks refused to do business with the site.

"For far too long, Backpage.com existed as the dominant marketplace for illicit commercial sex, a place where sex traffickers frequently advertised children and adults alike", U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a written statement. "But this illegality stops right now".

Federal agents shut down the web site on April 6th and several executives of the firm have since been indicted. Ferrer's attorneys did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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.

Maggy Krell, a former assistant attorney general in California and lawyer who worked on the case, says that the recent pleas and indictments could be a major turning point.

Ferrer is not named as a defendant in that indictment.

A co-founder of the advertising site Backpage.com will remain jailed through the weekend in Arizona on charges of facilitating prostitution. The executive then traveled to Texas where he again pleaded guilty to money laundering and Backpage pleaded guilty to human trafficking.

The CEO of the company, Carl Ferrer is also pleading guilty to money laundering charges, which will result in up to five years in prison.

As part of his agreements with the U.S. Department of Justice and with prosecutors from California and Texas, Ferrer has agreed to cooperate in the criminal case against Backpage co-founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin. The three deny the state charges.

He also acknowledged other back page officials and he had applied financial institution account and processing organizations to hide the foundation of their own revenue.

"I'm pleased that Congress has taken additional steps by passing my SESTA legislation to let sex trafficking victims seek justice and allow state and local law enforcement to swiftly prosecute websites that violate federal sex trafficking laws", Portman said.

Texas state agents raided the Dallas headquarters of Backpage and arrested Ferrer on a California warrant after he arrived at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport on a flight from Amsterdam on October 6, 2016.