The CEO of Backpage.com was arrested and faces charges after allegedly letting ads for sex trafficking run on his site.
55-year-old Carl Ferrer was coming back from Amsterdam when he was arrested after landing in Houston on Thursday, the attorney general said, according to PIX11.
“Raking in millions of dollars from the trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable victims is outrageous, despicable and illegal,” Kamala Harris, California Attorney General said in a statement. “Backpage and its executives purposefully and unlawfully designed Backpage to be the world’s top online brothel.”
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart issued a statement, which read:
Both California and Texas authorities investigated and found that the escort ads on the site involved victims of both children and adults.
The site, which is comparable to Craigslist, lets users sell products and services by posting ads.
Ferrer apparently “knew for at least 5 years” that the site was a “hub for the illegal sex trade,” according to a California warrant. A California complaint also showed that the site reportedly made $2 million dollars a month, if not more, from user-generated ads in the state between October 2014 and May 2015.
According to California court documents, an investigation began three years ago after reports from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children were released.
Since 2012, there have been 2,900 reported cases of suspected child sex trafficking instances in California supported by the site.
Shareholders of Backpage.com, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, were also charged with conspiracy to commit pimping.
Ferrer was charged with pimping a minor and conspiracy to commit pimping.
“The criminal action initiated today will lead to new hope for children who are sold for sex online,” John F. Clark, president and CEO of NCMEC said in a statement.