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In response, Craigslist — which remained a popular hub of prostitution — took down its personal ads for users in the United States.

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And they’ve indicted the website’s founders and employees, alleging the company raked in tens of millions while knowingly facilitating the prostitution of minors.

It was billed as a resounding victory for law enforcement, but the demand for sex won’t stop.

In 2016, California’s Attorney General filed pimping-related charges against Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer, and founders Lacey and Larkin.

A state court judge threw out the case, echoing the site’s longtime position: that Backpage was protected when publishing speech posted by other people.

Critics say the site’s shutdown may make work more dangerous for women in Florida’s ever-thriving sex industry — and will push the business to murkier parts of the internet, complicating the job of local police officers who regularly scoured Backpage to find trafficking victims.

“People are celebrating a hollow victory,” said Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco, an author and criminology professor at George Mason University who serves an expert witness in human-trafficking cases. It was a centralized location where they could find ads and decide whether or not to initiate a sting.” Said Amber, a co-founder of the Sex Workers Outreach Project in Tampa: “Sex workers all over the country are in a panic.

She also used another website that screened clients. In Miami-Dade, posts on Backpage have resulted in many high-profile human trafficking cases.

Both sites have now stopped taking ads from the United States. In recent years, those charged include a local Spanish-language singer, a man who forced a runaway teen to tattoo his street name on her eyelids and a businessman who lured girls from Kazakhstan with the false promise of working at a yoga studio.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that 74 percent of all its child-trafficking report last year was generated from Backpage.

The State Attorney’s Human Trafficking Unit and local police have used Backpage as a chief tool, leading to scores of arrests in recent years.

The website offered free or low-cost classified ads for people renting rooms, selling cars or peddling used furniture.

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