Some 69 people were rescued Wednesday from a life of chains, cages and torture at a Christian ministry in the twin island nation of Trinidad & Tobago in a case local police describe as “slavery” in the largest human trafficking ring in the country.
“What we believe is that we have cracked what we believe is the biggest human trafficking ring in the country … some of them said they have been here for years … this is a much bigger picture and we have to investigate each and every case…this relates to virtual slavery with what we have seen here,” Trinidad & Tobago’s Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith told the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian.
Police announced that they rescued 65 men and four women from the Transformed Life Ministry Rehabilitation Centre in Arouca, Trinidad, during a sting operation Wednesday morning. The victims were ranged in ages from 20 to their 60s and most of them were found “in cages and some handcuffs.”
“Some of them say they have been tortured. It is such a bigger picture with profit being made out of this … family members deliberately sending their loved ones here and extracting the profits from the families,” Griffith said.
Human trafficking, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide annually, including in the U.S.
A member of the ministry speaking on condition of anonymity to the T&T Guardian denied that the people found at the facility were being trafficked and noted that the Transformed Life Ministry Rehabilitation Centre is simply a rehabilitation home for people who want to come out of drug addiction.
“It is not human trafficking. It is a rehab so the pastor have [sic] the place gated to prevent them from running away. These people’s parents sign contracts and agree. They also view the places. … So why would families put their love one there if they saw it? Nobody there is in chains, etc., they are lying. God hear me it is a lie, “the ministry member said.
It was still unclear Thursday how the victims were being used for profit but Griffiths said the “barbaric” scene they encountered at the ministry showed evidence that the victims were being tortured.
“Persons are seen in cages, handcuffed … persons were being tortured. We saw tasers and batons … and again this is a situation of virtual modern day slavery,” he said.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair