Police announced that they rescued 65 men and four women from the Transformed Life Ministry (TLM) Rehabilitation Centre in Arouca, Trinidad, during a sting operation early this week. The victims were ranged in ages from 20 to their 60s and most of them were found “in cages and some handcuffs. Local police described the conditions as “slavery” in the largest human trafficking ring in the country.
Some of them say they have been tortured. It is such a bigger picture with profit being made out of this. Some believe family members deliberately sending their loved ones there and were extracting the profits from the families. 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 centre is simply a rehabilitation home for people who want to come out of drug addiction.
In the days following, it was still unclear how the victims were being used for profit, but officers said the “barbaric” scene they encountered at the ministry showed evidence that the victims were being tortured.
At least six people have already been arrested in connection with the ministry which promised to use the Gospel and expert training to “serve male ex-prisoners and deportees by providing safe transitional housing, developmental and rehabilitation programmers, to promote healthy reintegration into society.”
The ministry was founded 19 years ago by pastor and ex-convict, Glen Awong, who said he was called to serve while doing a seven-year stint at the local Golden Grove Prison.
Awong’s work in the prison with other inmates attracted the attention of prison officials and it earned him early release from prison for good behavior. He continued visiting with inmates after his release and conducted Bible classes with other former inmates until they found a physical space to house the ministry.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families effected, and we ask that yours be too. If you know any new developments on the story, share in the comments.