Hospital Santo Tomas, Los Eligidos de Dios, or in English, St. Thomas Hospital, Those Chosen by God, has been a so-called drug rehabilitation center operating in Mexico City for the past eight years. Families have been sending their loved ones their under the assumption that alcoholics, druggies, and addicts of all kinds would be receiving the loving help they so required.
They were so wrong.
Today, Mexican authorities busted the place as a site of forced labour — clothespins and purses mostly. 107 slaves were set free and 23 people were placed under arrest. Most of the survivors set free were indigenous people who, like in many colonized countries, are more at risk for being trafficked than other people groups.
The slaves were found in miserable condition, dehydrated, tortured and starved. Many had been abused sexually. Even Mexicans, who have come to accept the existence of organized crime in their midst, are stunned by the heinous nature of this operation. This was no fly-by-night agency. It was well staffed and perhaps may have been trafficking people since its beginning eight years ago. However authorities are unable to ascertain that aspect of the situation at the moment.
Addicts… people in need of help… enter an institution seeking assistance only to be starved, beaten, forced to work obscene hours, and endure other forms of human indignity. What an enormous betrayal of trust. What a massive burden of fear when there are no counselors or doctors to help one come down off of heroine (for example), but rather taskmasters who beat the addiction out of a person. When a vulnerable person such as an addict finally musters the courage to try again… try for help… and they are exploited for the sake of a purse… a clothespin… I can't imagine the range of emotion and spiritual damage that would be done to a healthy person let a lone one in more need of protection.
How does one protect one's self against such schemes? We can educate ourselves and our children. We can take safety measures and so forth. But the fact of the matter is, there are people out there who will use any ploy to maintain power over others. We cannot know everything at all times in all places. Right now, what we DO know is that this has been happening for some time now, 107 people were set free today and 23 people were arrested.
From this, I pray that those 107 will have loving families eager to have them back, and eager to seek healing. If not, I pray for deeply rooted 'spiritual families' to step up and become what these abused addicts need.
And for the 23 accused… part of me demands justice for what you have done. And the other part of me remembers a lone slave trader from the 1800's… trading blacks from Africa to America… and how God brought his justice down upon him and transformed his life.
Which is scarier?
Or becoming the next John Newton?