PALM BAY, Fla. - Palm Bay Police said two men were arrested on human trafficking charges after they illegally forced children into labor.
Police said the children, most
12 and 13 years old, were dropped off in strange neighborhoods and left alone to sell items like candy and candles.
Police said Johnny Carrasquillo and John St. Hilaire were driving a van labeled "Teens Against Drugs and Alcohol" when they dropped off 24 children from Orange County in a Palm Bay neighborhood on Friday.
Jeremy Futrell said police were called that day after neighbors accused two of the teens of stealing a golf cart.
But police were already on their way because the Department of Children and Families has been investigating the group and others like it for the past two years.
Carrasquillo and St. Hilaire are now facing 24 counts of human trafficking and 24 counts of child abuse.
Inside the van, police found plywood seats, and investigators said there was no way for the children to get out without help from the outside.
DCF officials said Carrasquillo and St. Hilaire were exploiting children to make money for themselves.
Both appeared in front of a Brevard County judge who set their bonds at $5 million.