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Local Officials Praise Closure of Adult Classified Website - KOAM TV 7

Local Officials Praise Closure of Adult Classified Website

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Joplin, MO -

Local experts share their reactions to what was America's largest classified website being shut down by the federal government.  Backpage.com can no longer be accessed.

Law enforcement officials say the website was best known for selling sex, further alleging Backpage has earned $500 million in revenue from prostitution since it was founded in 2004.

Local experts say they saw a direct connection with Backpage and Joplin, in particular.

"Over the last several years, we connected several crimes through Backpage," says Captain Trevor Duncan with the Joplin Police Department.  "We knew there was a lot of activity going on in Joplin that was advertised on Backpage.  We would see people meet up from Backpage ads, then another crime would occur, such as a robbery, serious assaults, different things like that."

"They have to get a considerable amount of evidence in order to get a judge to sign-off on a warrant," says Kris Wade with the Justice Project Kansas City.  "So that tells me they did their investigation and their research, and they found that, yes, this is promoting prostitution and it often times promoting prostitution of minors."

Experts and police say they used Backpage to find sexually exploited children and adults.  Nonetheless, they say having the website shut down far outweighs losing an investigation tool of their own.

Local experts hope this website being shut down makes a difference in fighting these crimes, even though many times pimps are difficult to arrest.

"We have caught people who were trafficking children for sex in Joplin," says Duncan.  "Some of them, we were able to get the victims, but suspect or main suspects get away or aren't trackable."

"Thugs are not rocket scientists and eventually they screw up.  If you're leading the thug life, eventually you're going to get caught.  It just works out that way," says Wade.

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