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Federal investigators detail ‘Sugar Shack’ where Indy girls were drugged, sex-trafficked

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Three people are facing federal charges for sex trafficking crimes.

A federal investigation identified at least three underage girls who traffickers forced into prostitution and got them addicted to drugs.

“I think this year we’ve seen a lot more of that,” said Tracy McDaniel, the CEO and Founder of Restored Inc. “We’re seeing kids being given either opiates or we’re seeing them being shot up with heroin or meth.”

The purpose, McDaniel says, is to make the young girls or boys compliant so they don’t fight demands to prostitute themselves.

In this case, the traffickers are accused of selling sex with the girls to the highest bidders out of two west side homes.

The alleged traffickers are Nahtahna Garcia Herrera, Vaughn Isom, Tyrece Jones and Dale Brown. Brown, also known as “Mac,” died of an overdose last year.

The other three are facing four to five counts of promoting prostitution, robbery and dealing cocaine or narcotics.

Court documents show in this case, one of the three victims told investigators she was “approached by a silver sedan, driven by Mac.” She told them, “Mac showed her a gun and told her to get into the car.”

When she tried to leave the house, Garcia “held her down on the floor by her upper arms” while “Mac injected her with dope in between her toes.”

“I mean this year alone I’ve probably seen more of an uptick, especially with drug use than I’ve had in the 4.5 years that I’ve been doing this work,” said McDaniel.

The other two underage victims knew of some of the four people prosecutors say were involved in the scheme.

McDaniel says it’s not surprising all three ended up stuck in a cycle.

As investigators found and described in court documents, “The girls needed the drugs, so they would engage in commercial sex to pay for the drugs… which Isom supplied.”

This cycle makes it even more difficult for the victims to leave as they’re often addicted or have learned to use drugs as a coping mechanism.

“It’s really hard to deal with the trauma because sometimes the drug is a way of escaping,” said McDaniel. “It’s a way of escaping the pain that they have been through or the things that they were made to do. They use drugs to completely numb out.”

Investigators say most of the illegal activity occurred at what the accused traffickers called the “Sugar Shack,” a duplex in the 600 block of Exeter Avenue.

At least two of the minors appeared in multiple Backpage.com ads offering adult services that pointed customers to the Sugar Shack.

McDaniel knows the road to recovery for all three girls will likely be difficult. She has seen how long it can take for victims like them to heal.

“We have to take things day by day,” said McDaniel. “A lot of times there’s relapse. The girls often run. So every day’s a new day and we just have to work through that day to try to get them to a place of recovery and restoration.”