Residents of Chester, N.S. are expressing shock after learning five men from the community are facing serious sex and drug charges involving teenage girls.

“Basically, our officers received confidential information that alleged that these five men were exchanging prescription pills for sexual acts,” says RCMP Sgt. Al LeBlanc.

The victims are four girls aged 16 to 18. The suspects range from 20 to 73 years old.

“We do not like to see young people involved in prescription drugs and, of course, sexual acts,” says LeBlanc. “That’s very disturbing.”

The suspects have since been released into the community but no one knows who they are.

“What I can say is that they were known to each other,” says LeBlanc. “All of these people were known to each other.”

Police typically release the names of the accused once charges have been laid, but they are withholding the suspects’ names in this case to avoid possible identification of the victims.

“Right now, just even hearing about that, it kind of makes my heart beat, my heart race a little bit,” says area resident Ashley Bushen.

“Oh great. Lovely. Just what we need,” says Derryl Silver.

RCMP have laid a total of 16 charges against the men after an eight-month investigation:

  • A 73-year-old man is charged with several sexual offences, one count of trafficking in hydromorphone, and one count of unlawful confinement.
  • A 22-year-old man is charged with several sexual offences and one count of trafficking in hydromorphone.
  • A 30-year-old man is charged with trafficking in hydromorphone.
  • A 23-year-old man is charged with trafficking in hydromorphone.
  • A 20-year-old man is charged with a sexual offence.

“Just shocked, especially in a small area like this,” says area resident Marlene Warren.

RCMP believe the alleged incidents took place throughout Lunenburg County.

Police expect to lay more charges as the investigation continues.

They are asking any victims or anyone with information about the case to come forward.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Kayla Hounsell