In his office’s continued push to end human trafficking in Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that Backpage.com, the largest online sex trafficking marketplace in the world, is permanently shut down. Backpage operated in 97 countries and 943 locations worldwide. Attorney General Paxton published a statement available on YouTube.
The seizure and takedown of the Backpage website was accomplished through a collaborative law enforcement effort involving Attorney General Paxton’s office, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the District of Arizona and Central District of California, and the California attorney general’s office.
In October 2016, Carl Ferrer, the CEO of Backpage, was arrested in Houston by officers from Attorney General Paxton’s Law Enforcement Division in a joint operation with the California attorney general’s office. A search of the company’s Dallas headquarters uncovered a treasure trove of evidence that was critical to the investigation.
“Backpage generated millions of dollars annually on the backs of innocent women and children who were forced or coerced into sex trafficking,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Taking down this despicable website will undoubtedly save lives and spare many others from the unspeakable horrors of sex trafficking."
Attorney General Paxton has made combating human trafficking a top priority. Two years ago, he launched his office’s Human Trafficking and Transnational Organized Crime unit, which works closely with prosecutors around Texas to prosecute human traffickers. Earlier this year, he unveiled a powerful training video to teach Texans how to spot and report suspected human trafficking activity.