Mexico City –
Mexican police say they have rescued 20 children aged between 1 and 17 from a rented room in the resort town of Playa del Carmen. Children were forced to work 12 hours a day selling snacks and trinkets on the streets and beaches.
Prosecutors in the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo, where Playa del Carmen is located, said the children and adolescents were mostly from the indigenous and poor Chiapas state.
The children were promised that they would be paid and could send money back to their families. But when they asked for their salary, the adults they worked for said their salary had already been sent to their parents. Prosecutors said they found a notebook containing names and amounts, but are still investigating whether the money was transferred.
Prosecutors said the children were forced to work from dawn until dusk and were found filthy, ill-dressed and malnourished.
The two suspects were detained at a low-rise rental complex in Playa del Carmen. No charges have been announced, but Mexico has laws against child exploitation and human trafficking.
The children were transferred to child welfare agencies. It was not clear when or if they would be returned to their parents.