There are reports that the 65 men and four women rescued at the rehabilitation center in Arouca this morning were being tortured.
In an early morning exercise spearheaded by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith and executed by members of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT), 69 people were rescued in what Griffith described as a “virtual modern day slavery”.
The institution, Transformed Life Ministries, is touted as a rehabilitation center. According to the center’s website, their philosophy is
“one of empowerment and responsibility. The Ministry wants to ensure that residents leave the facility rehabilitated, empowered and self-sufficient. The residents should not only be capable of taking care of themselves, but also accepting the responsibility of providing for their families and giving back to the community”.
According to reports, the center would receive drug-addicts who were sent by their families to be rehabilitated. After an initial medical examination, the captives would be admitted for treatment sometimes being advised by staff to have their stay extended at the end of the initial treatment period. Some have been residents of the Center for years.
Griffith said it appears that some relatives were purposely admitting their loved ones to the Center. As a result, he said each one of the 69 cases will be thoroughly investigated. Griffith said, “We have now cracked what is the biggest situations pertaining to human trafficking in this country.” He confirmed that taser guns and batons were seized. Witnesses say that some of the captives appeared to be beaten and underfed. A few were also mentally challenged.
One pastor and a few other members have been arrested following the exercise. Ag. Deputy Commissioner of Police Operations, Jayson Forde; the TTPS’ Victim and Witness Support Unit and officers from Northern Division CID also assisted in this morning’s sting operation.
Investigations are continuing.