DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Dozens of homeless said the Volusia County Administration Center was their safe haven but undercover officers from Daytona Beach Police Department said it was nothing but chaos and extremely violent. The officers spent three days and two nights there.
[MORE: News 6's 7 p.m. report ]
"You heard about prostitution, you heard about drug dealing, you heard about beat downs, you heard about shake downs. You heard about people who were not homeless," said Chief Mike Chitwood.
Chitwood told News 6 that he sent the undercover officers there to find out what was really going on inside the homeless camp.
"You look at some of those people, they are certified gang members, 20 felony arrests, and young people pulling up in a car prostituting the guy's girlfriend," he said.
Police pointed out some of those major players at the camp by their previous mug shots. Chitwood said while some people are actually homeless, collecting money through handouts and disability checks, others used that to their advantage.
"They'll give somebody K2 and the guy will smoke the K2 and the guy will tell them, you owe me 50 bucks now and if you don't pay me, I'm going to beat you," said Chitwood.
Investigators said one group beat a 62-year-old man so badly, undercover officers called in for backup but said it didn't do any good.
"The camp goons wondered around and said the cops are coming. Don't anybody talk. Hide your beer, hide your drugs and don't cooperate," said Chitwood.
However, once police and Salvation Army arrived to dismantle the camp, Chitwood said several of the homeless were grateful and he hopes those people will finally get the services they need.