Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has been working to take down classified ads website Backpage for years. In his latest move against the now defunct platform, Dart asked a federal judge to consider ordering sanctions against the lawyers who represented Backpage in light of new information about its use of cryptocurrencies.
First, some background on Backpage. The site, originally launched in 2004 by Village Voice Media (then called New Times Media), was conceived of as a digitized classified section. One of its sections advertised adult services, which was suspended in early 2017 because people suspected sex traffickers of regularly using the site to sell nonconsenting adults and minors. (Prostitution is also criminalized in most of the U.S.) There have been multiple accounts of girls sold by sex traffickers through Backpage going back to the early 2010s.