It’s a crime that has shocked students, teachers and parents in Venice, Florida.
Authorities say that two high school students – ages 15 and 17 – organized a prostitution ring of students from nearby high schools.
On Tuesday, Police charged Julian Mathena, 15, and Alexa Nicole De Armas, 17, with human trafficking.
“They discussed it as a business opportunity and tried to recruit others to buy into the business,” Venice Police Capt. Tim Mattmuller said in a press conference. “You could see that the motivation was money, alcohol and drugs.”
According to authorities, their activities were discovered after four female students confided to school administrators that they had been asked to join a prostitution ring. Students told officers that the teens coordinated at least three prostitution deals by using Facebook private messaging. Police believe that they also used Snapchat and Kik messaging services.
According to the Sarasota Herald Tribune, police found conversations between De Armas and potential business partners that detailed the costs for transactions. Various sex acts were priced between $50 and $100; the prostitutes would receive 40 percent of the fees. “Why pimp out old hoes when I have fresh young hoes I can give up for money?” she wrote in one message, according to the Herald Tribune. “As long as I’m getting paid, I’m trafficking all these bitches.”
Soon, the investigation led police to John Michael Mosher, a suspected john in the case. Police say that Mosher, 21, paid a 15-year-old girl $40 and a bottle of alcohol in return for sex. “She was coerced into this,” Mattmuller said. “She was not a willing participant.” He has been charged with sexual battery.
Police warn that there may be more victims; at this point, it’s unclear how many trysts were organized by the teens. “It doesn’t surprise us,” Mattmuller says. “It’s more disappointing than anything.”