Students at a Southwest Florida high school told administrators that two teens tried to recruit them into a "prostitution ring" and that one 15-year-old boy had been "pimping out girls," according to an arrest affidavit.
By Tuesday, detectives in Venice, a small community in Sarasota County, had charged three people in connection with the case.
A 15-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl were charged with human trafficking and a 21-year-old man was charged with sexual battery on a victim older than 12. Police said he paid a 15-year-old girl from Riverview High School $40 and a bottle of alcohol for sex.
Venice Police say the investigation continues, and there may be more victims.
U.S. & World
The idea to form a prostitution ring gained traction through a series of online messages between the two around Aug. 13, according to investigators who searched the pair's Facebook accounts.
The messages included a business plan to "pimp hoes" with rates such as $50 to $70 for oral sex, $100 for sex with a virgin. The cut for prostitutes was 40 percent.
In the messages they discussed prices, ages of prospective prostitutes and details of the operation, according to the police report.
"lol we need to start a business," wrote Alexa Nicole De Armas, the 17-year-old who was charged.
De Armas was able to convince "Megan" to have sex with John Mosher, 21, for $40 and a bottle of alcohol, police said. After seeing how easy it was, the teen girl worked to recruit more girls to have sex with "clients," according to investigators.
The 15-year-old boy and De Armas used the money to buy drugs and booze, according to the affidavit.
The 15-year-old was already in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice for unrelated charges — which officials did not provide information about — and remained in the department's custody after he was rearrested.
De Armas did not have a phone to coordinate business, so she used the Facebook messenger service as well as apps on her tablet including Kik and Snapchat.
In the messages prices were discussed, including charging $100 for sex with a virgin and $50-70 for oral sex as well as a potential $200 investment in the fledgling business, according to police.
Neighbors were surprised to hear the house near them in a quiet subdivision in Sarasota housed an alleged leader of a prostitution ring. They said the family moved in about a year ago and kept to themselves.
"They leave us alone and we leave them alone," said neighbor Carol Bieber, 74, who saw police come to the house recently. "I just can't believe that."
Tracy Harris planned to talk with her 15-year-old son who attends Sarasota High after learning her neighbor was allegedly part of the sex ring.
"That's just horrible. It's sickening," Harris said. "It gives every parent something to think about."
Police said none of the sexual activities they are investigating happened on school grounds.