Backpage.com CEO takes plea to California money-laundering

Backpage faces Federal Indictment

Backpage faces Federal Indictment

Carl Ferrer, 57, entered guilty pleas to conspiracy and money laundering charges in both Sacramento County Superior Court and U.S. District Court in Arizona under agreements with state and federal prosecutors that call for him to serve five years in prison.

Calling it the "largest online sex trafficking marketplace in the world", Paxton said Backpage facilitated the sex trafficking of innocent women and children at 943 locations in 97 countries and 17 languages.

Also charged were Jim Larkin, co-founder of Backpage.com, and a long-time Lacey associate.

Almost a week ago, the classified advertising website Backpage.com was seized by the Department of Justice on accounts of facilitating prostitution and money laundering from its forum.

State prosecutors changed tack past year, filing almost 40 new money laundering charges against Ferrer, Larkin and Lacey. "Authorities also allege the company laundered some of the estimated $500 million in prostitution-related revenue the site had generated since its launch in 2004".

SESTA aims to halt sex trafficking, particularly of children, by restricting what kind of information can be posted on websites like Backpage, where people often advertise sexual services. It also executed a search warrant on the Dallas headquarters of Backpage.

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He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and three counts of money laundering.

"Whether on the street or on the internet, sex trafficking will not be tolerated", Wray said in a statement, promising the investigative work would continue, with help from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and local law enforcement.

The plea agreement provides that, if Ferrer fails to comply with either of these requirements, the plea agreement shall be null and void and the United States may bring additional charges against Ferrer. "And the conviction of CEO Ferrer is a game-changer in combating human trafficking in California, indeed worldwide". Magistrate Judge Bridget Bade says attorneys have agreed on the terms of release, but other details must be ironed out.

On Oct. 6, 2016, the CEO of Backpage.com was arrested at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport after arriving on a flight from Amsterdam.

On Wednesday, President Trump signed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 into law, making it easier for law enforcement to take legal action against any websites that enable human trafficking. Backpage was owned by a Dutch-based company.

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