The CEO of a Dallas-based website linked to prostitution and sex trafficking has been arrested, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Thursday.
The CEO of a website called Backpage.com was arrested at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport around 2 p.m. Thursday. He was returning from Amsterdam, where the company also has offices.
Paxton said authorities in California had been investigating Carl Ferrer for three years and brought information to officials in Texas several months ago.
"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," read a release from Paxton's office sent later Thursday.
Ferrer, 55, will face charges of pimping and related crimes from California, but Texas will have its own investigation.
Ferrer was arrested on pimping charges from California. Late Thursday afternoon, Texas investigators were executing a search warrant at Backpage's offices at the corner of Oak Lawn and Maple Avenues in Dallas.
Paxton didn’t detail any future charges, but said the Texas investigation is not over.
“Backpage is the single largest advertiser of adult escort services" in the United States, Paxton said. The company “advertises sex acts for money,” and earns millions of dollars in advertising profits annually, he added.
An indictment filed in late September and obtained Thursday by News 8 cites 17 incidents between 2012 and 2015 in which sex trafficking advertisements were purportedly posted on Backpage.
The site made $2 million per month in advertisements from October 2014 to May 2015, the indictment states.
The Texas attorney general said Backpage exploited both adults and children for financial gain.