10/6/2016 - Dallas, TX -- Word is just coming in that Backpage.com CEO, Carl Ferrer, has been arrested in Houston upon his return flight from Amsterdam earlier today.
Details are few at this time, but reports claim that the attorneys general for both Texas and California have been working in cooperation to target what is undeniably the largest organized effort to promote the prostitution and sex trafficking of men, women and children in the USA and other countries. The joint investigation is said to have been ongoing for the last three years.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said "We cannot allow this evil to endure" when speaking about Backpage.com.
Backpage.com sold in 2014 to a Dutch company that has it's headquarters in Dallas. Ferrer, 55, lives in Frisco.
Documents claim that Backpage.com, which is known for it's 'Adult' classified section reportedly made a staggering $50 million in online ads from 2013 to 2015.
“Making money off the backs of innocent human beings by allowing them to be exploited for modern-day slavery is not acceptable in Texas,” Attorney General Paxton said. “I intend to use every resource my office has to make sure those who profit from the exploitation and trafficking of persons are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Ferrer, who was arrested on a California criminal warrant, will first face charges in that state related to pimping and profiting from sex trafficking.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris said Ferrer was arrested on felony charges of pimping a minor, pimping, and conspiracy to commit pimping. He is being held in lieu of $500,000 bond and will face an extradition hearing before he can be returned to California.
Backpage.com's controlling shareholders, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, have also been charged with conspiracy to commit pimping - Warrants have been issued for their arrests.
Under California's law, felony pimping is defined as making money off of prostitutes or soliciting customers for prostitution.
Texas law enforcement also reportedly executed a search warrant on the company headquarters seeking evidence of money laundering.
The investigation was reportedly prompted in part by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which reported 2,900 instances to California authorities since 2012 when suspected child sex trafficking occurred via Backpage.
Backpage has been the subject of recent Senate hearings into its classified ads, which often promote escort services. Last month, the Supreme Court refused to block a Senate subpoena seeking information on how Backpage screens ads for possible sex trafficking.
Recently all three major credit card brands (American Express, Visa and Mastercard) refused to continue processing credit card payments originating from Backpage.com. However, Backpage.com quickly found a workaround which allowed customers to pre-purchase credits using a major credit card and then use those credits to post prostitution related ads.
Attorney General Paxton said he is in the process of shutting down the Backpage.com website.
JohnTV will continue to follow this case.