Backpage.com | KERA News

Backpage.com

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The chief executive of a website that authorities have dubbed a lucrative nationwide "online brothel" pleaded guilty Thursday to state and federal charges including conspiracy and money laundering, and agreed to testify in ongoing prosecutions against others at Backpage.com, authorities said.

A federal grand jury in Arizona has indicted seven people behind the classified-ads website Backpage.com on 93 counts, including charges of facilitating prostitution and money laundering.

The defendants include founders Michael Lacey, 69, and James Larkin, 68, as well as other shareholders and employees. The indictment accuses the executives of presenting Backpage as a site to advertise escort services while knowing that "the overwhelming majority of the website's ads involve prostitution." The indictment says the site made over $500 million in "prostitution-related revenue."

The online classified website Backpage.com said it has suspended its adult ad pages, citing government pressure about the content being shared there.

A 2016 Senate report called the website the "largest commercial sex services advertising platform in the United States" and said that "Backpage officials have publicly acknowledged that criminals use the website for sex trafficking, including trafficking of minors."

Office of Texas Attorney General

The CEO of Backpage.com, which has offices in Dallas, has been arrested in Houston on felony sex charges. The company began in the back pages of alternative newspapers like the Dallas Observer.

The CEO of Backpage.com, a classifieds website that allows users to post escort ads, was arrested Thursday on felony pimping charges.

Carl Ferrer was arrested in Houston after he arrived on a flight from Amsterdam; dozens of law enforcement officers then searched Backpage's Dallas headquarters, the Texas attorney general's office says.