ALTUS, Okla._After nearly two years of investigation, Altus police have uncovered a brutal case of human trafficking, putting several people behind bars.
Six people are currently in jail after police say a 13-year-old girl was victimized during a two-month period back in January of 2013. The victim told officials she was taken to several locations throughout town, given large amounts of meth and forced to have sex in exchange for money and more drugs. Now, police are searching for the ringleader of the crimes, a woman named Dixie Shirley, who pushed to victim into the horrible acts.
Police say, unlike several cases of trafficking that involve large crime organizations and hundreds of victims from other parts of the country or world, this one is purely local. The 13-year-old victim was living in town and those responsible for these horrific crimes all called Altus home as well.
"They saw an opportunity to exploit a child, and they took it," said Assistant Police Chief Bill Perkins.
Police were alerted that something was wrong with the 13-year-old in January 2013 when she failed to show up to school and she started getting in trouble with the law. Her grandfather, and legal guardian, could only do so much.
"She had a history of running away quite a bit. She was living a high risk lifestyle," said Assistant Police Chief Perkins.
When she finally broke down to police, she told them of two months of terror. An 18-year-old, by the name of Dixie, forced her to have sex with multiple people for money, meth and even things like torch lighters, long after the victim begged her to stop. She also told them how she and 41-year-old David Guerra would have "uncountable" amounts of sex, just days after he taught her how to inject meth into her arm. Police say the victim would later become addicted to the drug.
Assistant Police Chief Perkins says it's a classic case of predators feeding on their prey.
"It wasn't anything she was initially doing herself. I don't think you can take anyone at that age and expect them to make correct choices," he said.
Six people now sit in the county jail on charges ranging from kidnapping to rape and sexual abuse. Perkins says the police department is grateful that the victim found help when she did.
"There's no doubt in my mind, had we not been able to do what we did, we would've found her dead eventually," said Assistant Police Chief Perkins.
While the search continues for others involved, Perkins is happy to report the victim has made a recovery.
"She's now safe, she's doing great. She's moving on with her life," he said.
Police are still searching for Dixie Shirley and her boyfriend, Keith Lindsey, for forcing a minor to engage in prostitution. If you have any information on their whereabouts, you're asked to call Altus Crime Stoppers at 482-TIPS.