Annual cost to Americans for Lacey and Larkin’s Backpage online human trafficking business, which reaps them millions of dollars per month, costs the taxpayers millions monthly. And this does not include law enforcement expenses and medical expenses.
If you do not pay taxes so you are thinking your tax dollars are not being used to deal with this, think again. Tax dollars that could be used for other purposes which affect you directly are now being used to deal with Mike Lacey and James Larkin. Who are making millions from their online website Backpage devoted to human trafficking. One arrest report evidenced them rewarding themselves with a ten million dollar “bonus” one year.
In the beginning, it was only costing Americans millions of dollars per month in law enforcement struggles which went all the way to Senate investigations.
Now the annual cost only for running damage control on sex trafficking is hitting American citizens at a cost of 56 million a year. Law enforcement expenses across 52 states would tower over that.
“I helped turn a weekly newspaper with a Web site into a digital enterprise.”
Tony Ortega, spokesperson for Backpage, bragged to the New York Times September 24, 2012 The Village Voice newspaper was used as a front to launch Backpage.
Pimps, prostitutes and child trafficking victims do not contribute to the country’s tax revenue. They tax the system.
Last month, a lawmaker introduced a bill that would spend more than $56 million to help victims and to train students and law enforcement officers to recognize the signs of trafficking. More than 40 lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors.
House Bill 910 would allocate $37.5 million for shelter beds, $13.5 million for mental health services, and $4.5 million to educate students on the warning signs of trafficking. Brawley says a bed and services can cost up to $40,000 a year for each victim. Mental health services could cost another $15,000.
“It’s huge,” Mark Blackwell, executive director of Charlotte’s Justice Ministries says of the proposed allocation. “Money is what’s needed in this fight. We’re operating on a shoe-string budget.”
Last year his nonprofit served 150 women who were trafficking victims. “It’s pretty much all we can handle as a small, grass-roots group,” he says.
It is unclear how many minors are forced into prostitution each year, but the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said reports of online child sex trafficking had increased by more than 800 percent from 2010 to 2015. The organization said this was “directly correlated to the increased use of the internet to sell children for sex.”
Backpage revenues increased to $135 million in 2014 from $5.3 million in 2008, and derived more than 90 percent of its earnings from its sex ads, according to the California Department of Justice.
Lacey, Larkin, and former Editor in Chief of the Village Voice, Tony Ortega, who hosted the Backpage classifieds section as part of the Village Voice, claim human trafficking is “Freedom of Speech”.
“Neither government officials nor God’s advocates can dictate such arbitrary control of business or speech,” read their response.
“Seven years ago, the people I work for were smart enough to start Backpage.com, a competitor to Craigslist,” the Voice’s Tony Ortega, who authored a number of stories criticizing concerns over sex trafficking on American shores as nothing more than “mass paranoia,” wrote in July. “What happens when two adults find each other through Backpage.com? I couldn’t tell you … [It] exists solely so that people can freely express themselves—sometimes in ways that make other people uncomfortable. We’re First Amendment extremists that way. Always have been.” Tony Ortega
Malika Saada Saar, a Washington-based advocate for women and girls’ rights, Google’s Senior Counsel on Civil and Human Rights and co-founder and Executive Director of the Human Rights Project for Girls (Rights4Girls), says that flying the flag of free speech is nothing more than a hollow, if savvy, defense tactic. “If I tried to sell crack online through Backpage, the Village Voice would not stand up and say this is about the first amendment,” she says—noting that there’s an exemption for advertising for drugs in the Communications Decency Act, but whereas there’s no such exemption for escort services, even when it amounts to little more than thinly veiled prostitution. “ It’s convenient and politically easy for them to frame this as a free speech issue and it’s not. It’s a human rights issue.”
Upon selling the Village Voice, Lacey was still protesting. Lacey, who has the words “hold fast” tattooed on his fingers, spoke with relish about the political and court fights ahead over Backpage.com. ‘It’s a retirement from journalism,’ he said. ‘This entire thing is still a First Amendment issue.’”
And so far a superior court judge in Sacramento agrees with Lacey, Larkin, and Ortega, and has thrown the case out of court laying waste to millions of dollars in legal expenses carried by American citizens. Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael G. Bowman ruled that websites such as Backpage.com are protected from lawsuits when they publish speech posted by other people. The judge said the Communications Decency Act of 1996 “struck a balance in favor of free speech” in keeping Internet service providers protected from liability. Ruling corporate profits have seniority over the human rights of homeless children.
This ruling strangely aligning with shocking reports of a racketeering scandal in Sacramento involving judges and other tax paid employees taking kickbacks and selling children.
The comments on the bottom of this announcement about an investigation into California’s Child Protective Services in 2013 are most alarming. Perhaps not the best arena to try a case like child sex trafficking.
And don’t forget, our tax dollars also paid the judge to throw the Backpage case out of court.
In 2013 Lacey and Larkin took the taxpayers of Arizona for 3.75 million dollars in a wrongful arrest lawsuit. And bragged about it on the cover of another paper they own. Phoenix New Times. The year before they awarded themselves each 10 million dollar bonus from their company. Imagine still wanting the taxpayers of Arizona to pony up 3.75 million to their overfilling coffers.
“The profit they were making was obscene,” says Sen. Claire McCaskill, who co-authored the the senate report on Backpage. “And the fact they were comfortable making that profit on the backs of children that were being sold for sex — it’s hard to contemplate that kind of evil.”
Backpage.com has earned Larkin millions and allowed him to live a life usually reserved for top-tier celebrities and Fortune 500 businessmen. Larkin’s palatial estate in Phoenix, Arizona is certainly one of the most impressive properties ever seen on “Cribs.”
The 64,000 square-foot home comes complete with two pools, a twelve-seat movie theater, an indoor basketball court, a guest house, and eight bedrooms.
Congress and Backpage have been at war for several years, costing the taxpayers millions upon millions, and lawmakers have passed legislation aimed at cracking down on online sex trafficking.
Backpage (Lacey and Larkin) sued (U.S. taxpayers again) late last year to try to stop the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act from being used against the company. Backpage argued that the law was written so vaguely that it could end up ensnaring publications that do try to weed out illicit activities but inadvertently miss some postings.
Backpage hosts online classified ad pages for more than 400 U.S. cities. This is just in the United States. Senators say some of those ads involve people who have been trafficked for purposes of sex, including minors.
“Sex trafficking has thrived on the Internet in part because of the high profitability and relatively low risk associated with advertising trafficking victims’ services online in multiple locations,” the Senate subcommittee said in its report urging the contempt citation. “With the aid of online advertising, traffickers can maximize profits, evade law-enforcement detection, and maintain control of victims by transporting them quickly within and between states.”
“Child sex trafficking in America today is a corporate enterprise,” says Yiota Souras, general counsel for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “Child sex trafficking happens in every state, in every community, in every jurisdiction. It’s big business and it’s one of the worst crimes imaginable.”
A blistering bipartisan report released from the U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on Investigations found that “Backpage has knowingly concealed evidence of criminality by systematically editing” advertisements to disguise the fact that they involve prostitution and child sex trafficking.
The state of California recently charged Ferrer, Lacey, and Larkin with money laundering and conspiracy to commit pimping. All three pleaded not guilty to the charges.
“All they did was publish and get paid,” said attorney James Grant, according to the Sacramento Bee. He argued that prosecutors were instead cracking down on “free speech.”
“The state doesn’t have the right to prosecute, but they’re using this to continue their investigation. This process needs to stop,” Backpage attorney James Grant told Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lawrence Brown.
Lawsuits that have been filed on behalf of children sold, raped and tortured courtesy Backpage, have been tossed out of court.
Quite simply, America has become the land of “no mercy” with ruthless disregard to the human rights of children, when in competition with corporate pirates. And American citizens are picking up the cost of the injustice and collateral damages.
Besides the first set of California charges, Backpage also fought off a federal grand jury investigation in 2013. The website received a subpoena seeking documents but challenged it in court. A judge quashed the subpoena, according to a filing by the Senate subcommittee. The proceedings were sealed, the subcommittee filing said, and it is not known what jurisdiction had convened the grand jury.
An internal Backpage document called that 2013 ruling a “sweeping victory against the federal government.”
And we have infected several other countries, and every major city in them, with the same plague, as Backpage has gone viral. Those people have no recourse either, as Lacey and Larkin are protected citizens of the United States. And we protected them as established Backpage online sex trafficking in the following countries:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Asia, Pacific, and the Middle East
The United Arab Emirates
Australia and Oceania
Latin America and the Caribbean
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