Big developments in the fight against human trafficking and sexual exploitation are having ripple effects in western Washington. The CEO of the website backpage.com was arrested on allegations of sex trafficking and pimping, earlier this month.
“I kind of rejoiced in the matter because he's been doing this for a very long time" victim advocate Phil Martin explained. Martin works with the campaign “Found not Bound” and believes it’s a sign that they are making progress in their fight.
The charges against Carl Ferrer came just days before a nationwide sting that led to the arrest of 239 pimps and other suspects. “Seattle ranks the third highest in the country in our trafficking ratio" Martin explained.
Operation Cross County X, as it was known by the FBI, led to the recovery of 5 underage victims in Washington state and outreach to 67 adults. While they celebrate more awareness and more enforcement, advocates say there is still work to be done and victims who desperately need help.
“They don't' know about healthy relationships, they don't know they can get a job and get married and these programs help to do that" Martin explained. While Martin tries to raise money and awareness for programs, he is hopeful that more crackdowns will eventually put an end to the online sex trade.