Hundreds of children, women and men who had been living at an overcrowded drug rehabilitation shelter in western Mexico were rescued in a police operation carried out Tuesday night, according to authorities.
Police found 271 people at the shelter, called “Spiritual Awakening, Alcoholics and Drug Addicts of the West,” in the city of Tonalá in the western state of Jalisco. The alleged victims were living in what authorities described as “inhumane conditions.” Police found 68 women, 91 men and 112 minors crammed into the facility.
“We’re still in the process of completing the operation. We found very serious conditions of overcrowding. We also found that people were being fed in a subhuman and inappropriate way,” Jalisco State’s Attorney Jesús Eduardo Almaguer said in a statement.
Almaguer said his office was alerted to the problem after a complaint from a woman who says she was beaten and kept from leaving the facility until she paid 1,500 Mexican pesos (U.S. $81.83) after she went there to visit a patient.
Pictures of the treatment center released by the Jalisco State’s Attorney’s Office show a room with buckets of what appears to be stew and vegetables that were kept on the floor. Another image showed rooms crowded with multiple metal bunk beds in what appears to be a dorm that was also used as a storage area.
The state’s attorney’s office said 18 minors who were rescued showed signs of abuse and 13 had been beaten and burned with cigarettes.
Eleven men were detained under suspicion of mistreating and abusing women and children and there are arrest warrants against 11 others. Two people in charge of the shelter are being investigated.
Authorities said they are now in the process of ensuring all drug rehabilitation shelters in Jalisco treat their patients with dignity.