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Arrests After 107 Slaves Found In Mexico City

12/ 3/09 11:20 PM ET   AP

Mexico Forced Labor

MEXICO CITY — Mexico City police on Thursday freed 107 people who were forced to work under slave-like conditions in a clandestine factory making shopping bags and clothing clasps, authorities said.

Police raided the factory, which was hidden inside an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center, after a worker escaped and informed authorities, Mexico City Attorney General Miguel Angel Mancera said. Twenty three people were arrested for human trafficking.

"The victims were being exploited and some were sexually abused," Mancera said. Many were suffering from dehydration and malnutrition, and some had cuts and broken bones.

Most were from indigenous communities and didn't speak Spanish. They were abducted or lured from communities across Mexico and taken to the St. Thomas-The Chosen by God rehabilitation center, Mancera said.

The freed workers, whose ages ranged from 14 to 70, were forced to work for 16 hours a day, with just a 30-minute break. Mancera said they were fed chicken feet and rotten vegetables.

Mancera said the rehabilitation center in Mexico City's populous Iztapalapa district had been open for at least eight years. But he didn't say for how long the factory had been operating or where the shopping bags and clothing clasps were sold.

He didn't say how many were men and how many were women.

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Filed by Adam J. Rose  |