Vero Beach man charged with human trafficking

Sheriff says this is not simple prostitution

Across from City Hall in downtown Vero Beach, are the Parkway Plaza apartments.


"I moved here from West Palm Beach for a better life and I guess I moved to the wrong place," said one resident who did not want to be identified.


Two women who call it home were well aware of what was happening in Apartment 4.


"Drug activity, prostitution," said one.


On Friday night, detectives arrested 28-year-old Thomas Solomon III and charged him with human trafficking. 


The Indian River County Sheriff's Office says Solomon was targeting known drug addicts, and getting them to turn tricks in exchange for drugs. No money… just drugs.


"Where he would recruit known drug addicts and essentially not pay them," said Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar.


The sheriff said this case is more than simple prostitution. "His tactics were fear and intimidating and bullying and we have witness statements that saw him beating these young ladies."


Detectives said Solomon would pay underage kids to set up the appointments with the women.


"They were taking phone calls from people responding to the Backpage ads and setting up dates for the girls," said Indian River County Detective Ross Partee.


Beyond the downtown apartment, the arrest warrant says Solomon also rented motel rooms at establishments along US 1.


Investigators say there are at least five victims in this case.   The sheriff says Solomon could face similar charges in St. Lucie County.