VENICE — Three people — two of them teenage students — have been arrested in connection with a prostitution ring involving three Florida high schools, police announced Tuesday.
Alexa Nicole De Armas, 17, a Sarasota High School student, was charged Friday with felony human trafficking of a person younger than 18. Police say she recruited fellow high school students for a prostitution ring, coordinating the acts on social media, and charging $50 to $100 in cash and alcohol.
A Venice High School student, 15-year-old Julian Luis Mathena, also was arrested and charged with human trafficking, the Venice Police Department announced Tuesday.
John Michael Mosher, 21, was arrested Friday. Police say he paid $40 and a bottle of liquor to have sex with a 15-year-old girl. She did not want to participate in the sex act, according to police.
Mosher is charged with felony sexual battery on a victim older than 12. He's being held without bail and has been ordered to have no contact with the victim or with De Armas.
Police Capt. Tom Mattmuller told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that only one student, the 15-year-old girl, engaged in sexual acts as part of the ring.
"She was coerced into this," he told the newspaper. Four other students were solicited, he said.
The alleged ring first came to light in October after four students at Venice High School told administrators that De Armas and Mathena wanted them to join, according to police. About the same time, police looked into reports of a Riverview High School student's involvement with Mosher.
The two students are said to have come up with a plan over the summer to prostitute teens for money and alcohol. Police documents indicate that the ringleader arranged for Mosher to have sex with the 15-year-old girl in a community pool shed in August.
Police say no activity took place on school property.
At least three prostitution deals — including the one with Mosher — were coordinated through Facebook private messaging, according to police.
Police said that a search warrant was issued for De Armas' Facebook account and that they found conversations between potential clients and participants, along with details of how the transactions would be made.
Information from the Associated Press and Sarasota Herald-Tribune was used in this report.