Police: Mexican shelter employees abused residents
Thursday, 20 May 2010

Five employees of a shelter for the homeless, mistreated and addicted are under investigation for allegedly sexually abusing residents and forcing them to perform unpaid labor, abort pregnancies and give their children up for adoption, police said Thursday.

Following a two month-investigation, authorities from the Mexico City Attorney General's Office detained the workers and rescued 37 adults and children who allegedly were being exploited at the Adulam shelter, the department said in a statement.

Authorities identified the alleged victims as 16 girls, 11 boys, six women and four elderly men, several of them belonging to the same families.

Some of the shelter residents told police they had been raped; others that they were forced to give up their newborn children or pressured to abort pregnancies.

Among those detained was Emilio Moctezuma Beltran Saldana, whom police identified as the shelter's director.

Police said they began investigating following complaints by four of the alleged victims, who accused Beltran of forcing them to sell lighters, pens and other articles on the streets.

"The victims said they were forced to turn over between 700 and 800 pesos ($54 to $60) each day to the director of Adulam," said the Attorney General's statement.

"If they didn't do it, food was withheld from them. They also said they were forced to clean patios and stairways on their hands and knees, with nothing more than a toothbrush."

Nonetheless, the victims showed signs of Stockholm syndrome, an identification with and affection for their captors, the statement said.

Beltran and the four other defendants are being held while authorities investigate them on possible charges of forced labor, sexual abuse, corruption of minors and organized crime.

Police did not say if the accused had lawyers.

The statement added that authorities are investigating a possible link to similar groups in the states of Mexico, Hidalgo and Guerrero.


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