HUSSAIN KHAN WALA, Pakistan — In this dusty town near Pakistan’s border with India, families kept quiet for years about the blackmail gang that locals believe filmed some 270 children being sexually abused, fearful the videos could appear online or be sold in markets for as little as 50 cents.

Those living in Hussain Khan Wala say the gang forced children at gunpoint to be abused or drugged them into submission. It was only after one family spoke up that others rose against the gang, with police later arresting 11 suspects.

But as Pakistan recoils in horror at the scope of the abuse, the case shows the dangers facing poor children, many of whom work as domestic servants and face abuse at the hands of their employers. It also raises questions about how such a gang could operate for years, with some questioning Pakistan’s police and political elite.

“They destroyed me,” one victim said. “They destroyed my family. They just killed me.”

The Associated Press does not identify victims of sexual abuse.

The gang likely began targeting its victims years earlier, Kasur district police chief Rai Babar Saeed said. Saeed said police already confiscated some 30 videos, nearly all of which included sexual abuse of children as young as 12. The gang then used the videos to extort money from families, threatening to release them publicly and shame their children and their relatives, Saeed said.

If a family couldn’t pay, there were some cases in which a victim would be forced to find another child to be filmed being abused, said Latif Sarra, a lawyer representing some victims. He said the gang filmed at least 270 children being abused. Saeed said he didn’t know of that many children being involved.

“It was a gang that has 15 to 21 members. These people have been … raping boys and girls under the age of 15 and then filming them since 2009,” Sarra said. “It is a case of extortion. It is their business.”

Saeed said authorities began investigating the case in June after receiving a complaint, but many families declined to press charges, even after officers drove through town asking over loudspeakers for victims to come forward. But on Aug. 4, Pakistani media reported that hundreds of protesters descended on a Kusar police station and briefly fought with officers, demanding investigators take action.

On Monday, a court in Kasur ordered five suspects in the case held without bail. Six others also have been arrested in connection with the case.

Child labor is common in Pakistan, and children as young as 5 are “bought, sold, rented or kidnapped and placed in organized begging rings, domestic servitude, small shops, brick kilns and prostitution,” the U.S. State Department said last year. Pakistan also has a huge population of at-risk Afghan refugees, though those involved in this blackmail ring appear all to be from Pakistan, officials said.