Police target Backpage
By Christopher Rice
People always ask "do police post on Backpage?" Yes, they do. Backpage is crawling with undercover pigs, vice, FBI, DHS, on and on. They all have one goal in mind, to shut down Backpage and drive prostitution underground.
Related article: Zero Tolerance for Prostitution and Human Trafficking
They offered Backpage a way out, but Backpage wouldn't be bullied into removing their escort section like Craigslist was. So the government declared an all out war on johns, prostitutes, pimps and anywhere that they advertise. Last year the FBI seized MyRedbook, this year DHS seized Rentboy. And every day there's another news story publishing johns pictures in the evening news.
Related article: How to beat any prositution sting
This prohibition on prostitution is working out so well maybe they should make alcohol illegal. Cure the world of all its evils. Now they are allocating more of your tax dollars and more police resources to chase some skanky hos around.
Here's an article out of Massachusetts....
By Jim Haddadin/Daily News
FRAMINGHAM – Two years ago, when police suspected that a woman was working as a prostitute out of a room at Motel 6 in Framingham, they turned their attention toward Backpage.com, a website that now turns up in countless police reports.
It was early September 2013, and members of the street crime unit went to the Motel 6 to check names on the hotel register. They recognized one guest, who was known to work as an escort, and headed back to the station to see if they could find her services advertised on the adult section of Backpage.
It wasn’t long before officers found a posting that matched the woman’s description. They called the phone number provided in the post and spoke with a woman named “Kim,” who said she was working at the Motel 6 and charged $80 for a half hour of sex or $130 for an hour.
Officers arrested the 23-year-old woman in a sting operation and also nabbed her alleged pimp – a 31-year-old Attleboro man who was found waiting in the parking lot, according to police.
Police say the encounter exemplifies a shift in prostitution cases taking place across the country as sex workers and those who exploit them for profit increasingly turn to the Internet to facilitate their activity. And as that trend continues, law enforcement officials in Massachusetts say Backpage is at the center of the problem.
The classified advertising website has gobbled up market share in recent years as its major competitor, Craigslist, has scaled back its adult postings under pressure from law enforcement and public officials.
On any given day, dozens of explicit advertisements are posted on the site offering adult services around Massachusetts, including in communities throughout MetroWest. RIA House, a one-year-old nonprofit in Framingham that helps adult sex workers, recently partnered with a professor at William James College in Newton and a foundation in Ohio to study the number of advertisements posted in three parts of Backpage’s adult section in Greater Boston and Worcester. In a three-month period, from March 1 to May 31, researchers logged at least 17,000 entries, director Heather Wightman said.
Research suggests many sex workers enter the trade as teenagers. At least half report having faced violence, and more than one third have had abusive or violent clients, according to research published last year by the Urban Institute.Related article: A Hooker was Murdered, Is Backpage.com to blame?
The danger inherent in the trade was highlighted on July 2 when the body of 34-year-old New York resident Sanisha Johnson was found inside a hotel room in Burlington. Police allege Johnson was robbed and murdered by two Massachusetts men who arranged to meet her on Backpage. Authorities announced Friday the men, Epshod Jeune, 24, of Burlington and Derrell Fisher, 21, of Roxbury, were indicted by a Middlesex County grand jury on charges of murder, attempted robbery, and unlawful possession of a firearm.Related article: What's the right way to protect Sex Workers?
In the wake of the killing, Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh issued a joint letter to Backpage, calling on the company to immediately shut down the adult section of its website.
“As we have seen through our office’s work, Backpage.com and the Internet have become increasingly popular vehicles for commercial sexual exploitation,” Healey said at the time. “In fact, most of the human trafficking cases that our office has prosecuted specifically involve advertisements on Backpage. It is clear that Backpage must do more to end the kind of exploitation that is advertised every day on its site.”
Efforts to reach Backpage or its attorneys were unsuccessful.
In Framingham, Police Chief Ken Ferguson agreed Backpage has exacerbated an age-old problem. He said the department’s street crime unit has broadened its focus by working with other agencies to investigate cases of human trafficking.
"A lot of them may not be doing it on their own accord, so it becomes a much more in depth investigation and there's a need for collaboration because it’s multifaceted, multi-jurisdictional," he said.
While prostitution is typically more prevalent in large cities, police say the problem also crops up in hotels and motels in suburban areas that are bordered by highways.
In Southborough, police received reports earlier this year from management at the Red Roof Inn about possible prostitution. They scoured Backpage and found an advertisement from a Harlem, New York woman, who allegedly offered to have sex with an undercover officer at the hotel for a fee.
In another example, a teenager who recently testified in a Rhode Island sex trafficking trial told jurors she and a friend were advertised as escorts on Backpage for about a month, working out of a Westborough motel room. Both the girl and her 14-year-old friend were listed as missing when they met their alleged pimp, 53-year-old Troy Footman, of Boston, the girl testified.
While some other suburban communities, such as Ashland, Hudson and Hopkinton, typically have fewer prostitution cases, police there still monitor the website.
Hopkinton Police Chief Edward Lee said he can’t recall any cases in his community that stemmed from a Backpage advertisement, but the problem was rampant when he worked in nearby Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
"Unfortunately, I think you'll see more of that in the future where people take advantage of computers and technology,” he said.
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