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 / Updated  / Source: Reuters

MEXICO CITY - A vermin-infested refuge for abandoned boys and girls was raided Tuesday by Mexican police and troops, who freed 458 children. The operation at the home known as "La Gran Familia" (The Big Family) in the western city of Zamora followed at least 50 complaints about its operators. Plagued with rats, bedbugs and fleas, it was home to 278 boys, 174 girls and six infants as well as 138 adults aged up to 40, the government said.

"We found that there were around 500 children in truly terrible conditions," Attorney General Jesus Murillo said. Five complaints by parents that the home would not return their children to them prompted authorities to act, he added. The children in the refuge had to beg for money on the streets, eat unsanitary food and sleep on the floor among vermin, according to officials. Some suffered sexual abuse, they added. La Gran Familia was founded in 1947 and looks after children abandoned by troubled parents, the refuge says on its Facebook page. Its funding came from charitable donations, as well as companies and the government.

- Reuters