Hitting Sex Traffickers Where They Live

By any measurement 2020 has been a year filled with disasters. From the out-of-control forest faires in the western half of the United States to the raging fires of anti-religious hatred fueled by those like Tony Ortega.

And, let’s be honest here, in many ways Tony Ortega is to tolerance online what a lit cigarette intentionally thrown from a car is to field of tall dry grass. After all, the hoped-for results of both are usually the same — to burn it all to the ground.

In the midst of all these worrying developments, we here at the blog find it helpful to occasionally remember some of the unexpected good this year has given us. Like the unprecedented crackdown on the sort of illegal sex trafficking Ortega helped legitimate and popularize while working as a front man for the Backpage child sex peddlers. 

This week we found another hopeful development in the form of an effort launched by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt called, The Hope Initiative. On its face, The Hope Initiative is a three-phase plan designed to prevent human trafficking by targeting unlawful businesses. Its repercussions, however may prove to have some surprisingly welcome knock on effects.

The initiative was developed after it was observed that sex traffickers would often attempt to set up their operations while posing as a legitimate businesses — all while keeping landlords unaware of the enterprises being run from their buildings.  Sound familiar?

This, of course, is exactly the kind of game Tony Ortega was helping Backpage run. It was Ortega’s job to sanitize and spin the Backpage business model in order to make it appear to the public like the business was legitimate, when in fact it was anything but.

The Missouri’s plan includes urging landlords to evict those who run business that advertise on illicit sites, potential lawsuits or criminal cases.

Indeed, the project is already working better than the lawmakers behind it could have hoped, with over half of the landlords contacted having already started the eviction process.

Can you imagine how effective this tool would have been against both the Backpage sex syndicate and its Ortega-run propaganda division over at the Village Voice?!

De-platforming sex traffickers doesn’t just mean forcibly extinguishing their presence on the web anymore. Backpage was able to operate undeterred for years before law enforcement were able to able to secure the proper warrants to bring them down. 

It is hoped this new approach will help to make it easier and faster to stop sex traffickers, leaving them no safe quarter to hide. Already many people are applauding Missouri’s creative initiative in stopping sex-traffickers and those who would aid them by exposing them to their landlords in order to hit them –literally – where they live.

Maybe someone should inform Tony’s wife, who owns the basement Ortega currently occupies, and urge her to consider eviction? It certainly wouldn’t be the strangest thing to happen this year! 

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