Mexican authorities raided a home in the western state of Michoacan and rescued 458 children who were found to be living in filthy conditions and are believed to have been forced to beg for money while some allegedly also suffered sexual abuse, local officials announced Tuesday.
The home known as “La Gran Familia,” or “The Big Family,” in the western city of Zamora, provided refuge to 278 boys, 174 girls and six infants as young as three years old, Reuters reported, adding that authorities searched the home after receiving at least 50 complaints about its operators. Mexican police also rescued 138 adults from the facility.
“I'm in utter dismay because we weren't expecting the conditions we found at the group home,” Associated Press, or AP, quoted Salvador Jara, Michoacan’s governor, as saying.
According to an attorney general, the residents of the home were kept in terrible conditions, AP reported, adding that the operators allegedly gave the inmates rotten food and made them sleep on the floor among rats, ticks and fleas, and confined some of them to the premises.
Rosa Verduzco, the home's owner, and eight employees accused of keeping children in the refuge against their will, have reportedly been arrested.
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According to La Gran Familia’s Facebook page, the refuge was founded in 1947 and cares for children abandoned by troubled parents, reports said.
The refuge is funded by charitable donations, as well as companies and the government, Reuters reported, adding that the rescued children are being treated for psychological and sexual abuse, while authorities are searching for suitable homes for the victims.