ADVERTISEMENT ties to local sex trafficking operations

A website used by area law enforcement to arrest buyers seeking paid sex in several sting operations announced its adult services section will be shut down.

A website used by area law enforcement to arrest buyers seeking paid sex in several sting operations announced its adult services section will be shut down.

After the announcement about, a major facilitator of sex trafficking in the U.S., U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., released a statement saying the move was overdue.

"Websites like facilitate sex trafficking across Minnesota and our country," said Klobuchar, who has been a national leader in the fight to combat human trafficking. "In fact, in southern Minnesota, an operation involving resulted in 48 arrests around the towns of New Ulm and Mankato.'s announcement that it will be shutting down its adult services section is long overdue, but another positive step forward in our fight against human trafficking. We need to keep working together to bring perpetrators to justice and get victims the support they deserve."

In Baxter, Brainerd and Breezy Point, operations conducted between May and November 2015 resulted in charges against 20 men. Law enforcement posted advertisements on the website, posing as fictional women offering paid sex. The buyers responded to the ad on Backpage, a website the National Center on Sexual Exploitation said previously generated about 80 percent of all online prostitution advertising revenue.

In the Baxter Police Department's first operation in May 2015, which resulted in charges against eight men, the ad stated a woman named "Sunny" would be in town for one day only and fictional photos and a phone number were provided.


The ad-titled "Fun and Frisky platinum BLONDE IN Town May 20th!!!!!"-read: "I'm super HOT & have tight lil' body for giving you a real TREAT!!!"

An undercover officer posing as Sunny on the phone set up appointments at a Baxter hotel with men who called or texted the provided phone number. According to the criminal complaints, the buyers agreed on a price for either a half-hour or hour of time with Sunny. The police then arrested the men who knocked on the door of a hotel room where they believed Sunny was located.

Klobuchar's office noted her bipartisan legislation, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, was signed into law in May of 2015.

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 children 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. Last March, Klobuchar and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) introduced the Stop Trafficking on Planes 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 Reauthorization Act of 2016.

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