State seeks to prosecute companies that abet sex trafficking

State attorneys general from around the country want Congress to give more power to local authorities to investigate child prostitution.

The officials want to help local prosecutors go after websites that advertise trafficked minors. Minnesota's Lori Swanson is one of 49 attorneys general who signed a letter this week to lawmakers.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi told MPR's The Daily Circuit that he and other prosecutors can go after johns and sex traffickers. But, he says, a federal law prevents state and local authorities from pursuing criminal charges against websites that allow users to post ads for escort services.

"I really believe that companies like backpage.com, they're very complicit in what's happening. And they know exactly what is happening. Their website is a platform for children for being bought and sold for sex."

Choi says all of the child-trafficking cases prosecuted by his office over the past two years involved backpage.com.

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