Backpage.com “and all affiliated websites” have been seized by federal agents today. An advisory was posted on the website notifying visitors of the seizure:
Backpage.com and affiliated websites have been seized as part of an enforcement action by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, with analytical assistance from the Joint Regional Intelligence Center.
Other agencies participating in and supporting the enforcement action include the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, the office of the California Attorney General, and the office of the Texas Attorney General.
Additional information will be provided at around 6:00 pm EST on Friday, April 6, by the U.S. Department of Justice, and all media inquiries should be directed to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Public Affairs at 202-514-2007 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Backpage.com has for a long time been selling children online for sex and is the second largest classified website,” said Kathleen Winn, Executive Director Project 25/ VAST; organizations dedicated to eradicating sex-trafficking. “The owners of Backpage.com reside in Arizona and have been repeatedly warned about their business practices that have caused children to be repeatedly raped for profit. Actions against Backpage.com began in 2012 and today is the culmination of many efforts by many advocates, law enforcement agencies, community leaders, and politicians.”
“We are hopeful this is a trend and that those, who seek to do harm to our children by exploiting them, are punished for their depravity,” continued Winn. “We applaud all those involved and know that criminal enterprises that cause trauma to our children have no place in our society.”
“Backpage has been hiding behind the Communications Decency Act, Section 230, for a decade despite the fact that a zealous United States Senate Subcommittee was able to prove that Backpage employees knew that domestic minors were being trafficked against their will on the company website. These children were regularly advertised for sex buyers to purchase on Backpage’s website,” said Andrea Kadar, Ambassador of Hope with Shared Hope International. Shared Hope International is part of a worldwide effort to eradicate sex trafficking.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to Senators Portman and Mc Caskill who, along with members of the House of Representatives, crafted legislation that will stop Backpage and all other websites that intend to traffick our American children for sex,” concluded Kadar.
According to sources, on Friday federal agents raided the Sedona, Arizona home of Michael Lacey, one of the website’s owners.
Check back for more details.