First, the good news. CityXGuide, the illicit site that was often described by users as “taking over from where Backpage left off”, has been shut down by The U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The owner, Wilhan Martono, was indicted with 28 federal accounts and could face 25 years in federal prison. The site allowed pimps and brothels to openly advertise women and children for sex, including minor victims. Its geographic reach spread across major U.S. cities, including Dallas.
Martono allegedly netted more than $21 million off a suite of illicit websites promoting prostitution and sex trafficking that he registered just one day after the FBI shut down Backpage.com.
Digging deeper into the story, there’s four takeaways for you to understand:
- The big business of trafficking. The owner allegedly made over $21 million in revenue with websites promoting illicit activities. The fight for justice must extend to those who facilitate trafficking.
- The evolution of masking crime. The sophisticated site received funds through gift cards and bitcoin, making it more difficult to build a criminal case. In addition, the site used IP addresses from Europe and overseas bank accounts to disguise U.S. domestic activity. As traffickers evolve to evade detective, DeliverFund must evolve faster.
- Training to understand sophisticated networks. DeliverFund trains law enforcement to not only see indicators of human trafficking, but to understand how illicit networks are financed and facilitated. It will take a comprehensive approach to uproot an illicit industry.
- DeliverFund is actively monitoring over 30 sites like CityXGuide. We continue to collect intelligence to counter human trafficking, to shut down more sites and disrupt an illicit market.
We celebrate a victory in the pursuit to end human trafficking.