Martin Eddie Herrera
28-year-old Martin Eddie Herrera has been in a Texas prison since 2007 on multiple aggravated robbery charges. Apparently, this hasn’t stopped him from running a criminal enterprise that deals in the trading of people.
Using multiple cell phones that were smuggled into prison, Herrera was allegedly able to run a Backpage prostitution ring in San Antonio from his cell. His victims include at least one 17-year-old girl who was advertised on Backpage. Herrera was also said to tell his lackeys in a written letter…
…“the biz must go on, the hustle must go on,” and “keep the others motivated to stack paper”.
I thought prison mail was constantly checked for this exact reason, or is this another luxury prisoners have now? Also, how are so many convicts hiding cell phones from the prison itself?
I’m surprised Backpage isn’t taking up his legal defense stating that his First Amendment rights are being violated.
In Brentwood, Tennessee, 22 men were arrested and indicted after a four-day sting involving child prostitution on Backpage. Two female agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) posed as girls, ages 14 and 16, being prostituted on Backpage. The 22 men who were arrested were said to be well aware of the age of the girls in question. But Trench, I might hear you say, didn’t Backpage do away with their adult services section? Technically yes, but in reality no. The ads for prostitution and sex trafficking have moved from the adult section to the dating/personals section. I’m also guessing that Backpage probably had no hand in assisting the TBI with the investigation.
With all the Congressional hearings and possible legislation against Backpage, the child sex trade is still going on unabated on their website, even though they’ve lowered themselves to accepting gift cards as payments for ads. With any luck, the legislation will go through, the Backpage heads will be prosecuted and their seized assets will be put to better use, like providing resources for all of their sex trafficking victims.
33-year-old Christopher Wall, of Weatherford, Texas, is accused of shooting and killing Ashley Phorence, 23, and Krista McClellan, 21, in Willow Park, Texas. Wall allegedly found McClellan and another woman on Backpage and contacted them for a massage at his workplace. McClellan allegedly told Wall that the pair of women had recorded him soliciting them for sex and were extorting him for $8,000. Phorence, McClellan, and the other woman met Wall at a bank in Willow Park to get more money from him. Instead, Wall reportedly shot and killed the two women while the third waited, and eventually escaped, in the car.
If reports are to be believed, then no one is innocent in this story. However, extortion is not an excuse for murder. First off, try not to find yourself in situations to be blackmailed, like ordering women off of Backpage. That’s the wrong thing to do for a multitude of reasons I’ve discussed before. If someone does threaten extortion against you in a situation like this, go to police. Yes, you may be cited for soliciting prostitution and have to deal with the repercussions from that, but you won’t be spending a possible life sentence in jail for first-degree murder.
Previously, I’ve posted about how tech giants like Google opposed amending the Communications Decency Act of 1996. After the drubbing Google and Facebook took during last week’s Senate hearing about the Russian political ads debacle, they now have seemed to thrown their support behind the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. This is the bill that would amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that has allowed sites like Backpage to avoid prosecution for their role in the sex trafficking of women and children.
Previously, tech giants like Google had opposed the bill fearing it would open them to potential lawsuits even though the amendment to the CDA specifically targets sites that bad-actor websites. Now, The Internet Association, which represents such tech luminaries as Google, Facebook and Twitter, has reversed their opposition to the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.
While it may not have been done out of the goodness of their hearts, but more to try to get Congress off their backs, this is still an important step towards the bill becoming law. Without as many allies, Backpage’s support is now crumbling. We are now several steps closer to seeing protections enabled to prevent girls and women from being trafficked on sites like Backpage and hopefully the successful prosecution of those who have profited way too long from their victims’ suffering.
Recently, the FBI announced the outcome of a nationwide sex trafficking sting operation called Operation Cross Country XI. They were able to rescue 84 juveniles and arrest 120 people involved in sex trafficking. Of course, one of the sites they used during this operation was Backpage.
One of the most disturbing aspects of the Operation happened in Denver, Colorado, where agents were able to rescue two sisters, ages 5-years-old and 3-months-old, from someone who was turning them out for money. A ‘friend’ of the girls’ family was offering them for sex (child rape) for $600. I really hope this was the first time this supposed friend was offering these girls out, but somehow I doubt it was.
While it can’t be said for certain those girls were turned out on Backpage, I would hazard that at least a large portion of the other 82 juveniles rescued were. Yet Backpage still continues to do business, still continues to make money off of these victims, and still claims that their role in the national sexual slavery trade of juveniles is their right to free speech. Yet very few in the general population of the country care because they don’t think it’s happening where they live, or to someone they know. That’s just one of the ways they’re wrong. It’s happening across all social classes, locations, and ethnicities, and unless we wake up to the problem and it will only get worse.
Thanks to Nancy and Mare for the tips.
For the past two weeks, the news has been filled with stories about Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Details have been made public about his alleged serial behavior of sexual assault and harassment against actresses and other female members of the entertainment industry that according to some reports goes back as far as 1980. The number of women who have spoken out against Weinstein’s behavior has been staggering. This in turn has sparked the Me Too movement where women from all walks of life have come out on social media using the hashtag #MeToo to show they have been sexually assaulted or harassed, and again, the numbers are staggering.
Now I’m not saying that any woman’s sexual assault is more or less traumatic or impactful than any other, however, there are a number of women and girls out there in society who don’t have the freedom or liberty to say they were sexually assaulted too. I’m sure by now you know where I’m going with this. Thanks to websites like Backpage and people like its CEO Carl Ferrer, there are more women and girls than ever being trafficked for the purposes of forced prostitution and sexual slavery.
Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer
Many of these victims are forced into this life through either violent means or some form of deception, such as their traffickers posing as talent or modeling agents. Often these victims have no means of communication to the world outside of prostitution and are often raped by their pimps. Then they’re advertised to be raped again for money on sites like Backpage. Meanwhile, it’s the pimps and Backpage itself who make all the money. To make matters even worse, Backpage hides behind the concept of free speech to continue exploiting these victims.
Sadly, Backpage’s victims don’t receive the same kind of media attention as the Weinstein scandal. They have very few voices who are willing to shine a light on their plight and when they do many people ignore them because they either believe the myth of consenting adults or they find the subject to be too depressing to care about.
So while the women who are sharing their stories are brave indeed, let us not forget the victims who can’t speak on their own behalf due to the position of slavery they have been tragically trapped in.
Back in 2012, three women filed a lawsuit against Backpage in the state of Washington. They claimed they were underage when they were forcibly trafficked for sex on the website. Previous lawsuits like this filed against Backpage have failed, however, in 2015, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled the lawsuit could proceed.
Earlier today it was reported Backpage settled the lawsuit with these women although the settlement itself has not disclosed to the public.
This story has huge implications when it comes to the future, or lack thereof, of Backpage. The first is that this is obviously an attempt to appease Congress who has been breathing down Backpage’s neck with supposed evidence of criminal activity in the way Backpage edits their ads. The second is that Backpage’s other pending lawsuits against them in the states of Texas, California, and Alabama, may either proceed or be settled as well. These settlements can’t be exactly cheap for Backpage. This could lead to even more lawsuits and more settlements until Backpage is hopefully bankrupt. I could see the triumvirate of Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer, and founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin paying out millions of dollars in order to avoid any kind of real prison time.
Maybe, just maybe, this is finally the writing on the wall for Backpage.
And we go back to Houston, Texas, where 30-year-old Clifton Campbell has been arrested for allegedly forcibly prostituting a woman on Backpage. Police say when the woman tried to leave Campbell, he punched her in the throat and in the eye. Please tell me about consenting adults again.
And Backpage still continues to collect that ad revenue from scum like this. More people should be outraged about this rather than whatever the reposted Facebook outrage story of the day is, you know, like football players kneeling, or how dogs would wear pants.
Henry and Garrett
24-year-old Centurrie Deshunn Garrett and 20-year-old Teresa Henry have been charged with various human trafficking charges for allegedly prostituting a 14-year-old girl on Backpage. Reports say the victim was allegedly lured away from Chicago by Henry with the promise of a romantic relationship.
It doesn’t matter if the pimps are men or women, the promise of a romantic relationship is one of the most commonly used tricks by pimps in order to recruit younger girls. There have been too many stories I’ve posted where the girl being trafficked claimed to be her pimp’s girlfriend.
Let’s also not forget these two somehow negotiated their way through Backpage’s stringent safeguards to prevent minors from being turned out on their site. And I by stringent I really mean porous.
Hopefully, these two will be sentenced to a Centurrie.
Nicholas Kristof, of the New York Times, is one of the few nationally known journalists who has continually reported on the transgressions of Backpage when it comes to Backpage’s part in the sex trade. In one of his recent columns, Kristoff goes after an even bigger fish in the polluted waters of internet sex trafficking, Google. Google opposes the proposed amendments to the Communications Decency Act that would remove the protections from prosecution that sites like Backpage have been hiding behind, otherwise known as the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.
Kristoff claims that Google has an unfounded fear when it comes to their argument of a slippery slope with Google claiming the new amendment to the CDA could open them up to frivolous lawsuits. However, a spokesperson for the National Center for Missing and Exploited children points out the new legislation is crafted in such a way that it only applies to those sites which are directly receiving money from traffickers.
“This bill only impacts bad-actor websites,” notes Yiota Souras, general counsel at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “You don’t inadvertently traffic a child.”
Yet the majority of Silicon Valley is opposing the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act mostly out of fear that it will somehow affect their right to free speech, which couldn’t be further from the truth. There is no slippery slope here. There is no downside. I think what the mostly insular tech community forgets is the victims being bought and sold into sexual slavery on sites like Backpage are real flesh and blood people and not just nameless pixels on a display screen.
Instead of worrying about Backpage’s ‘freedom of speech’ these tech companies should be more worried about the fact that many of the women and girls being trafficked on Backpage have no freedom at all in a country that prides itself on liberty.