The Backpage.com website has been accused of conducting investigations for several years because it was used to promote prostitution and money laundering.
On Friday night, Dart told ABC7 I-Team that he was “very ecstatic, thinking that over the years, a website that involved sex trafficking, child trafficking, and prostitution had been closed.”
Federal investigators have seized a popular linear sex market.
On Friday, an e-label was posted on an online classifieds website, saying it had been detained by the FBI, U.S. post inspectors and the IRS.
Prior to this move, Backpage.com had been the second largest classified advertising service in the United States; based on the latest data, revenue was US$135 million.
Most of its revenue comes from sexual service ads. Illinois is one of the countries ranked between Backpage.com.
Cook County Sergeant Tom Dartt has been responsible for stopping the site for the past ten years, claiming it is a provider of pimp services and child sexual crimes.
One lawsuit filed against Sheriff Dart by Backpage is still winding through federal court. But until Friday the website had continued to operate, shielded by free speech protections.
The Justice Department promised more information on this would be released Friday evening, but nothing came from from DOJ on possible charges or arrests.
The online takedown notice did not detail the reason for the seizure but noted that Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, as well as the offices of the Texas attorney general and California attorney general, were involved.
Current anti-trafficking laws cannot be applied to websites such as Backpage. But federal legislation that is awaiting the president’s signature will make it easier for prosecutors and sex trafficking victims to take legal action against websites that host ads for prostitution.
After both the House and Senate recently passed the bill, the largest classified ad site, Craigslist, preemptively shut down its personals section.