More Police Admitting That FOSTA/SESTA Has Made It Much More Difficult To Catch Pimps And Traffickers

from the i-mean,-who-could-have-predicted-it... dept

Prior to the passage of SESTA/FOSTA, we pointed out that -- contrary to the claims of the bill's suppporters -- it would almost certainly make law enforcement's job much more difficult, and thus actually would help human traffickers. The key: no matter what you thought of Backpage, it cooperated with law enforcement. And, law enforcement was able to use it to track down traffickers using online services like Backpage. Back in May we noted that police were starting to realize there was a problem here, and it appears that's continuing.

Over in Indianapolis, the police have just arrested their first pimp in 2018, and it involved an undercover cop being approached by the pimp. The reporter asks why there have been so few such arrests, and the police point the finger right at the shutdown of Backpage:

The cases, according to Sgt. John Daggy, an undercover officer with IMPD’s vice unit, have just dried up.

The reason for that is pretty simple: the feds closed police’s best source of leads, the online personals site Backpage, earlier this year.

“We’ve been a little bit blinded lately because they shut Backpage down,” Daggy said. “I get the reasoning behind it, and the ethics behind it, however, it has blinded us. We used to look at Backpage as a trap for human traffickers and pimps.”

Got that? Just as we noted, Backpage was an incredibly useful tool for police to find human traffickers and pimps. And... thanks to do gooders insisting that Backpage was to blame, now Backpage is gone, and the police can't find the traffickers and pimps any more.

This does not seem like the way to stop trafficking. It seems like the way to make it more difficult for law enforcement to stop it.

“With Backpage, we would subpoena the ads and it would tell a lot of the story,” Daggy said. “Also, with the ads we would catch our victim at a hotel room, which would give us a crime scene. There’s a ton of evidence at a crime scene. Now, since [Backpage] has gone down, we’re getting late reports of them and we don’t have much to go by.”

The article is quite long and detailed -- and, somewhat incredibly -- even gets Sgt. Daggy to admit that he used to complain about Backpage, and then realized how useful it was as a police tool:

Shortly after Indianapolis hosted the Super Bowl, Daggy was invited to give a presentation at the Conference of Attorneys General.

“I was badmouthing Backpage big time,” he said, “because, you know, we were getting all of our arrests off there. We made over 60 arrests and caught four human trafficking cases during the Super Bowl.”

After he presented, Daggy says the website’s lawyer came up to speak to him.

“She came up to me and said, ‘You know, if we shut down, the ads will go offshore and someone else will pick them up,’” Daggy said.

That’s when Daggy started viewing Backpage as a trap – a useful tool for police trying to find victims who rarely self-report, and perpetrators who rarely come out in the open.

Of course, I'm still waiting to hear what all those people who supported SESTA/FOSTA have to say about all of this. Where is Amy Schumer, who put out a PSA in favor of SESTA/FOSTA, now that police are admitting that it's putting women's lives at risk, and that they're no longer able to track down and stop traffickers. Where are all the moralizing people who just happened to also be magically connected to the Hollywood studios who have always wanted to attack CDA 230, but suddenly found a "cause" to use in saying they needed to open up CDA 230 to stop sex trafficking. You guys made a problem much, much worse.

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  1. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Jul 2018 @ 12:30pm


    "Yeah, we put a cop on this street corner and now all the drug-dealers and prostitutes moved to the next block! What are we to do?"

    Pimps and human traffickers already make themselves hard to find. Driving them further into the darkness of the underground will not help the police, no matter how big the flashlight.

    Masnick, you're so rabidly fixated on your "libertarian" assertion that having crimes out in the open is better than stopping wherever can and then chasing after to next place, that you can no longer claim to be against drugs and prostitution.

    In an ideal world, we would have no crime. (We would also not have you, so be grateful this is not an ideal world.) Until such time as we reach the no-crime ideal, the police are better served by criminals doing their “business” as out in the open as possible. A trafficker who uses a website that can be easily accessed by the public will have far less luck in evading authorities than a trafficker who uses a “darknet” website that remains a secret to all but a select few people.

    For the record: I am all for the legalization of drugs (let the government control distribution) and the decriminalization of prostitution (let the women work for themselves without threat of arrest).

    you now pick-and-choose to believe a COP? After railing hundreds of times how stupid they are?

    Police officers can be stupid, yes. That assertion does not make their job any less important, nor does it turn all LEOs into imbeciles.

    a follower of Mammon

    …the Chrono Trigger boss?

    Following your notion, the US was wrong to defeat Nazi Germany.

    Gotdamn, you Godwinned already?

    Yup, you've convinced me that inaction can be best.

    Nobody here is advocating for inaction on the part of the police. (Except for you, apparently.) We are pointing out that the police now have a much harder time tracking down human traffickers and pimps because the primary tool they were using to do that was shut down due to FOSTA/SESTA. Challenge does not equal inaction; it means that, despite any and all efforts, the police can no longer easily arrest a specific class of criminal thanks to a poorly-thought-out law that its creators claimed would help the police make those arrests. If anyone is guilty of “inaction” or “driving criminals to the next block”, the people behind FOSTA/SESTA look good for it.

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