The Hamptons Police announced this week that they have busted a local child labor syndicate that had been using boys and girls aged 10 and under to run lemonade stands.
According to Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch, the syndicate had established an elaborate criminal enterprise that employed dozens of young children. “It’s horrifying to contemplate it, but these guys were operating under the guise of a day camp,” Hirsch explained at a Friday afternoon press briefing. “Parents actually paid to send their children to something called Camp Lemonade. But they didn’t go to anything like camp—not like any camp I’ve ever heard of.”
As Hirsch described it, instead of children arriving at a bucolic location to engage in fun and educational activities in a welcoming environment, young charges went to shabby lemonade stands across the South Fork, where the children were pressed into service making lemonade and selling it to thirsty passersby.
“The children were not paid for their work, as far as we know,” Hirsch said. At the end of each workday, the children were given small crafts clumsily made out of popsicle sticks and instructed to tell their parents that they had produced these crafts themselves. “It was a pretty sweet racket while it lasted,” Hirsch continued. “They were collecting money from the parents, who were paying $300 per week per child for their little ones to go to Camp Lemonade. Then they were reaping the profits from the lemonade stands, with zero costs for labor. Pretty slick!”
Hamptons Police Department officers were tipped off about the scheme when a parent became suspicious after her five-year-old suddenly showed remarkable skill in squeezing lemons and making delicious lemonade.
The police have arrested seven suspects in connection with the case, and more arrests are possible.