DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Carl Ferrer, the Chief Executive Officer of notorious adult website Backpage.com, was arrested after he arrived in Houston on a flight from Amsterdam this afternoon.
“We cannot allow this evil to endure,” said Attorney General Paxton about the site, which he said facilitates a “grotesque form of modern day slavery” of both children and adults.
“Backpage.com seems to have knowingly and willingly allowed women and children to be exploited for its own financial gain,” he said.
Texas authorities executed a search warrant at the Dutch company’s headquarters in Oaklawn Thursday afternoon. The warrant for the company that took in $2.5 million a month, according to Paxton, was based on money laundering.
Ferrer, 55, lives in Frisco.
“It’s disheartening that such organized, deep-seated evil happened in our back yard,” said Paxton.
Paxton said Ferrer will face state charges related to pimping in California first.
A lengthy joint investigation by the offices of the Texas and California attorneys general uncovered evidence that adult and child sex trafficking victims were forced into prostitution through escort ads that appeared repeatedly on Backpage.com.
And the profits were staggering.
Documents show Backpage.com took in $50 million in ads between 2013 and 2015.
Paxton said investigators repeatedly warned the website about the alleged illegal activities, but that the company continued to allow the ads.
In March 2016, the United States Senate voted to hold Ferrer in contempt of congress after he failed to appear at a hearing about online sex trafficking.
“Making money off the backs of innocent human beings by allowing them to be exploited for modern-day slavery is not acceptable in Texas,” Paxton said. “I intend to use every resource my office has to make sure those who profit from the exploitation and trafficking of persons are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Every major credit card company has reportedly cut ties with the website and the state is in the process of shutting it down.
The only way customers can pay online is with Bitcoin or by mailing a check.
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