We learned last week that the US government seized the classified website Backpage.com, shut it down completely, and replaced the front page with a disclaimer where it posted the announcement. Backpage cofounders have been the subject of law enforcement investigations into sex trafficking, money-laundering and pimping over the years.
Now, as of today, a grand jury in Phoenix indicted seven officials associated with the website with facilitating prostitution and alleged money laundering. In the indictment, it charges Backpage of enabling the trafficking of 17 victims, some of whom were as young as 14 years of age. “This is not a website that let the occasional ad slip thru the cracks of their review system,” a US official said upon the site’s seizure, according to The Washington Post.
Since 2004, when the website launched, it has laundered some of the $500 million in prostitution revenue it received. According to the indictment, almost every dollar the website earned was made through illegal activity of some sort. The several official are accused of “50 different instances in which the defendants are alleged to have knowingly facilitated a prostitution crime,” according to The Washington Post.