MINNEAPOLIS, MN – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar released the following statement today on the arrest of Backpage Chief Executive Office Carl Ferrer on sex trafficking charges. Backpage.com has faced accusations in various jurisdictions of engaging in sex trafficking, including trafficking of children, and hundreds of trafficking cases across the country have been linked to the site. According to authorities, this is the first time that criminal charges have been brought against the company or its executives.

“Websites like Backpage.com facilitate sex trafficking across Minnesota and our country. In fact, in southwest Minnesota, an operation involving Backpage resulted in 48 arrests around the towns of New Ulm and Mankato,” said Klobuchar. “With these crimes happening in our own neighborhoods and communities, the arrest of Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer is another step forward in the fight against sex trafficking. We need to keep working together to bring perpetrators to justice and to get victims the support they deserve."

Klobuchar is a national leader in the fight to combat human trafficking. Her bipartisan legislation, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, was signed into law last May. The legislation was modeled after Minnesota’s “Safe Harbor” law, which gives incentives for all states to have a safe harbor provision to help ensure minors who are sold for sex aren’t prosecuted as defendants, but are instead treated as victims. When a state passes a safe harbor law, it means that kids sold for sex should be steered towards child protection services, rather than being arrested, charged, or convicted under a state’s criminal laws. In addition to law enforcement provisions, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act helps victims rebuild their lives by using fines and penalties against perpetrators to improve the availability of victim services. In March, Klobuchar and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced the Stop Trafficking on Planes (STOP) Act that would require training for certain airline industry employees to recognize and report suspected human trafficking to law enforcement. A provision based on this legislation was signed into law in July as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2016.