Man busted for selling minors as prostitutes on Backpage.com

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Backpage.com ad
DES MOINES, Wash. —

A Des Moines man has been accused of selling underage girls on the Internet for sex.

Police told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Amy Clancy that the prostitution occurred mostly in South King County, at motels near the airport.

A 15-year-old girl and a 16-year-old girl were advertised on Backpage.com. At least one of them had run away from home.

One of the online ads promoted the "escort services" of one of the girls, "Henessy." The phone number in the ad is one of the many pieces of evidence that led investigators with the FBI's Child Exploitation Task Force to DeMarquez Xavier Austin.

Austin, 22, is also known as "Chaos." He has no prior criminal record but has now been charged with two counts of promoting sexual abuse of a minor.

"We see ads posted on Backpage.com relating to these two victims advertising escort services, singly or as a duo," said Ayn Dietrich of the FBI.

According to prosecutors, from early January to late February, Austin rented out rooms at motels near the airport where his two alleged teenage victims would work as prostitutes.

Austin apparently knew the girls were underage. He warned them to be careful because, he told them, "he could get into serious trouble for pimping out a teenager."

Backpage.com has come under fire nationwide for the alleged sexual exploitation of minors, which is why the FBI actively pursues investigations like this one.

"Stopping this kind of violence against minors is of extreme importance to the FBI," Dietrich said.

Austin is in jail awaiting trial.