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Monday, 20 December 2010

Tennesee Men Arrested for Trafficking Women on Backpage.com

by Amanda Kloer
In what's becoming a pattern, yet another story of human trafficking via Backpage.com is splashed across the media this week. This time, several adult women who were forced into prostitution were advertised on the increasingly notorious online classified site. How many more cases of human trafficking will Backpage.com help facilitate before they finally begin to take the issue seriously?

Five men were arrested this week for running a human trafficking ring based in Columbia, Tennessee. Nathaniel Roberts, the alleged ringleader of the group that called themselves "The Wolf Pack", is accused of using Backpage.com to advertise for sex with women who he controlled and abused, sometimes with brutal violence. For example, one of the victims claimed that she earned an average of $900 a day selling sex acts, but Roberts and his colleagues kept every penny of it. If she or the other trafficked women complained or "talked back," Roberts would beat them. Mental, physical, and emotional abuse became an almost-daily reality for The Wolf Pack's women, all in the name of profit — Roberts' Myspace page boasts that he makes over $100,000 a year as a pimp. And his profits from sex trafficking were made possible by Backpage.com.

Backpage and other online classified sites make it easy for people like Roberts and his cohorts to sell trafficked women in several cities or states. While this ring was based in Columbia, Tennessee, a relatively small town, Backpage allowed the traffickers to advertise for the women they controlled in other cities, including Spring Hill, Murfreesboro and Nashville. Backpage opened up the market of men looking to buy sex far beyond the local area, and because of that, The Wolf Pack was able to profit mightily from the women they forced into prostitution.

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