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Mexico rescues 129 workers 'abused' by South Korean firm

Friday, February 6, 2015 - 06:27
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Mexican authorities have rescued 129 workers, including six children, who said they were physically and sexually abused at a garment firm run by South Koreans, officials said Thursday.

[MEXICO CITY] Mexican authorities have rescued 129 workers, including six children, who said they were physically and sexually abused at a garment firm run by South Koreans, officials said Thursday.

Four South Korean nationals have been handed over to prosecutors in the western state of Jalisco after workers identified them as the owners or managers of the company named Yes International, the National Migration Institute (INM) said.

Authorities raided the company in the town of Zapopan on Wednesday after receiving an anonymous tip, INM coordinator Ardelio Vargas Fosado told reporters.

Officials rescued 121 women and eight men, including six minors who were 16 and 17 years old.

The workers told prosecutors that they were "victims of physical and sexual abuse, as well as threats, psychological harm and grueling work days," Vargas Fosado said.

The four South Koreans could not prove whether they legally lived in Mexico. The South Korean consulate was notified to provide assistance to the suspects, officials said.

Jalisco's chief prosecutor, Luis Carlos Najera, said authorities are investigating whether child abuse and sexual crimes were committed.

The employees toiled in "unsanitary" conditions, with pollutants in their place of work, and the material they handled posed a fire hazard while the company had no fire safety equipment, said Victor Manuel Torres Moreno, a labor ministry official.

Officials also said the employees lacked contracts; worked more than the legal eight hours per day; only had 15-minute lunches instead of half an hour; were not paid for overtime; and were not given health benefits.

AFP