Federal and state police officers raided a group home Tuesday in the western state of Michoacan and rescued 458 children who were forced to beg for money and suffered sexual abuse while being against their will in filthy conditions, Mexico’s top prosecutor said.
Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said police also rescued 138 adults from the Great Family group home in the city of Zamora.
The group home residents were kept in deplorable conditions, fed rotten food and made to sleep on the floor among rats, ticks and fleas and many of them were never allowed to leave the premises, Murillo Karam said at a news conference attended by top federal investigators and Michoacan Gov. Salvador Jara.
“I’m in utter dismay because we weren’t expecting the conditions we found at the group home,” Jara said.
Police detained the home’s owner, Rosa del Carmen Verduzco, and eight workers for questioning, Murillo Karam said.
The investigation began after five parents filed complaints last year with authorities because they weren’t allowed to see their children at the home, Jara said.
One of the parents was a woman who grew up and gave birth to two children at Great Family, which has been open for 40 years. She was allowed to leave when she was 31-years-old but Verduzco kept the two children, who had been registered under her name, said Tomas Ceron, head of the Criminal Research Agency at the Attorney General’s Office.