FLORIDA - A Florida prostitution ring allegedly run by high school students who tried to recruit classmates with the promise of US$40 (S$50) and liquor has been broken up, police said on Tuesday.
Two teenagers were also nabbed in the crackdown on the underage sex scheme.
One girl was sexually assaulted in the ploy, which came to light after four others told high school administrators that they had been approached to join, according to police in Venice, on Florida's west coast.
Police charged a 15-year-old boy at Venice High School with human trafficking on Tuesday.
On Friday, they arrested a 17-year-old girl, identified as Alexa Nicole De Armas from nearby Sarasota High School, on the same charge, Reuters reported.
Students told officers that De Armas had coordinated at least three prostitution deals through Facebook private messaging, according to the police in the Mail Online.
Police said a search warrant was issued for her Facebook account and that they found conversations between potential clients and participants, along with details on how the transactions would be made.
On her arrest affidavit, police noted that De Armas denied the charge and was uncooperative.
An alleged customer, John Mosher, a 21-year-old restaurant dishwasher, was being held in jail in Sarasota County without bond, following his arrest on Friday on a sexual battery charge.
One of De Armas' alleged prostitution deals involved Mosher.
Neither his lawyer nor representatives for the students could be reached for comment.
"I think we pretty much shut it down," Venice Police Captain Tom Mattmuller said.
The victim told detectives that the student ringleaders arranged for Mosher to have sex with her against her will at a swimming pool in August when she was 15 years old, police said.
Authorities began investigating last month when four girls at Venice High School told administrators that they were asked to join.
They told police that the leader of the scheme claimed she convinced one girl to have sex in exchange for US$40 and a bottle of liquor.
One of the arrested teenagers has been released home to her parents and the other is in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice for unknown reasons.
This article was first published on November 27, 2014.
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