Police arrest 2 teens for prostitution ring
Sarasota, Florida - Venice police arrested a second teenager in a prostitution ring going around three Sarasota County high schools.
Police say the ring leaders were a 17-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy.
Police say the girl, a student from Sarasota High School, is behind a prostitution ring for young girls. The investigation led police to Sarasota High, but the investigation began in Venice.
Venice Police say the Sarasota High student had help. Also arrested was a 15-year-old boy, a former student from Venice High School. Police say both teens created the prostitution ring in August.
They're charged with human trafficking. The 15-year-old was already in custody on unrelated charges, according to Captain Tom Mattmuller, Venice Police Department.
Because both alleged ringleaders are minors, 10 News will not identify them. Click here to learn more about the 10 News Crime Guidelines.
"The motive behind it: money and alcohol. Trading money and alcohol for sex," says Mattmuller.
Police started investigating in October, when four students at Venice High School reported the prostitution ring to the School Resource Officer.
"That's disgusting to think someone, a girl, would set that all up to hurt other kids," said Sarasota high school senior, Brian Johnson.
"That's awful that she would do that at all and for what? money and alcohol? She is not even old enough to drink!" said another Sarasota high school student 16-year-old Emily Smith.
Using a search warrant, police looked at the Sarasota High School students' Facebook page and found a business plan with rates such as $50 to $70 for oral sex, $100 for sex with a virgin. The cut for prostitutes was 40 percent.
"Why pimp out old hoes when I have fresh young hoes I can give up for money?" the Sarasota High student wrote in one Facebook exchange to a business partner, adding, "As long as I'm getting paid I'm trafficking all these (expletive deleted)."
Police say the girl used Facebook messaging to set up the meetings with "Johns."
That investigation also led police to John Michael Mosher. The 21-year-old is charged with sexual battery on a victim older than 12. Police say 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. Mattmuller says, "It doesn't surprise us. It's more disappointing than anything."
Police said none of the sexual activities they are investigating happened on school grounds.
Students told officers that the Sarasota High student coordinated at least three prostitution deals — including the one with the 15-year-old — by using Facebook private messaging. They also used Snap Chat and Kik apps. Those apps are messaging type apps.
Sarasota High School's principal says because this is an ongoing investigation, district officials will not comment.