Mexican authorities rescue 458 children living in squalor

This article is more than 12 months old

Mexican authorities rescued nearly 600 people, including 458 children, from a vermin-infested refuge for abandoned boys and girls on Tuesday.

As the police raided the home, known as "La Gran Familia", they saw children living in shocking conditions. Children were living in squalor where rats and insects swarmed the residential facility.

Early investigations revealed that the operator of the house, Rose Verduzco, and her eight employees inflicted "a variety of physical and psychological abuse" on the residents, said an investigator Tomas Zeron at the attorney general's office.

The children were forced to beg in the street, sleep on the floor and eat spoilt food, said Zeron.

Some residents were allegedly sexually abused as well.

The home, which has operated for more than 40 years in the town of Zamora in western Michoacan state, came under the spotlight after reports emerged that five kidnapped children were being held there.

Furthermore, at least 50 complaints were filed about its operators. Verduzco is now being questioned by authorities, said government officials.

The home housed children left there by troubled parents.

Lucia Carranza said she was bursting to see her five-year-old son after only being allowed three visits a year since handing him over to the shelter.

“My husband and I were day workers, we worked in the countryside and survived by the grace of God, so I couldn’t keep my baby and they recommended this place,” Carranza, 25, told AFP.

“I thought I would be able to see him every week like at other facilities, but no.... We looked for lawyers but everyone told me it was impossible to do anything against her (Verduzco),” she said.

Children born in the facility were registered as offspring of Verduzco, and their parents were denied the right to raise them, officials said.

One former resident, Bertha Saucedo, told Foro TV that Verduzco had forced her to give up her daughter, who has Down's syndrome, after she gave birth at the shelter.

"They took my daughter away from me when she was three months old. When she was six years old, I started coming to see her and she (Verduzco) never let me see her because she had Down's syndrome and if I didn't pay her she was never going to give her back," Saucedo said.

"I didn't file a complaint because I was afraid they would treat her badly, hit her and take her food away."

Source: AFP