TEXAS, U.S. - The Texas state attorney general announced on Thursday that the classified advertising website Backpage.com pleaded guilty to human trafficking charges.
The attorney general also announced that the company's CEO had pleaded guilty to money-laundering charges in California.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said in a statement, "Taking down Backpage and obtaining a criminal conviction for the company and its CEO represents a significant victory in the fight against human trafficking in Texas and around the world.”
The statement added, "I want to thank the Attorney General of California, the U.S. Department of Justice, federal law enforcement officials, Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez, and the prosecutors and law enforcement in my office for their outstanding collaborative work on this investigation and prosecution.”
According to reports, the CEO of the Dallas-based company Carl Ferrer, has reached a plea agreement and will not spend more than five years in prison.
Ferrer has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and three counts of money-laundering as part of the deal.
He has also agreed to cooperate with California prosecutors pursuing charges against the website's founders, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, who have pleaded not guilty.
Backpage has been accused by prosecutors of permitting prostitution ads featuring underage sex-trafficking victims.
On Monday, federal prosecutors indicted the website's executives on a series of money laundering and prostitution charges.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement, “For far too long, Backpage.com existed as the dominant marketplace for illicit commercial sex, a place where sex traffickers frequently advertised children and adults alike. But this illegality stops right now. Last Friday, the Department of Justice seized Backpage, and it can no longer be used by criminals to promote and facilitate human trafficking.”