MADISONVILLE, Texas -- Two times in two months, Madisonville police have faced what was once unthinkable: underage girls allegedly given crystal meth and forced to have sex.
Last week, several suspects were arrested in an early morning sting and accused of gang raping a 16-year-old in March while she was high.
Then in April, police broke up a ring where girls, as young as 13, were allegedly recruited, given meth, and forced into prostitution.
For years, small towns have struggled with meth. But in Madisonville it was not just the drug that was abused, it was girls.
“It’s a nasty situation,” Madisonville Police Chief C.W. May said. He pointed out that the victims all seemed to fit a similar profile and faced similar child predators.
“They don’t have the love they think they should have. Somebody befriends them, they get involved and they are introduced to the drug culture,” Chief May said. “And once they get them hooked on drugs, they can basically have anything they want with them.”
In this community of fewer than 5,000 people, there is deep concern.
“It’s difficult, yeah it’s hard to realize that it’s going on,” resident Gary Burgess said. The alleged rape was just a block from his home.
Police say the cases had nothing in common and the timing is pure coincidence.
“Not part of any kind of organized effort on anybody’s part,” Chief May said.
One of the eleven suspects accused in the rape remains on the run and police are actively looking for him.