MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Child sex trafficking continues to be a problem across the country and here in the Twin Cities.
Law enforcement officers say websites that advertise escort services are one of the biggest sources for trafficking.
The FBI has ranked Minneapolis as the 13th worst center in the nation for child sex trafficking. And much of that trafficking happens online.
One website that has come under fire locally and nationally is Backpage.com. Both Minneapolis and St. Paul have passed resolutions condemning the site and calling on Backpage to stop running escort ads.
Minnesota Congressman Erik Paulsen has introduced federal legislation to hold websites like Backpage accountable. He appeared on WCCO Sunday Morning.
“There is no doubt it is making it more difficult for law enforcement to track down where sex trafficking has occurred, targeting juveniles,” he said. “Our legislation is going to hold them accountable, when Backpage is getting $26 million a year, profiting off of sex trafficking opportunities.”
Backpage has successfully fought off other legal efforts that would require it to verify the age of its users. And Backpage has insisted it works with authorities to report trafficking cases.
Law enforcement agencies have on occasion been able to turn the tables on these websites. Last year, Fridley Police used ads in Backpage to stage a prostitution sting, which resulted in 23 arrests.
We did reach out to Backpage for a comment and did not hear back.
You can watch WCCO Sunday Morning with Esme Murphy and Matt Brickman every Sunday at 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.