Mexico frees 20 kids who worked 12 hour days selling snacks at Playa del Carmen resort

BARRIO (AP) – Police in Mexico rescued 20 kids ranging in age from 1 to 17 from rented rooms in the resort town of Playa del Carmen, where they were forced to work 12 hours per day selling snacks and trinkets on the streets and beaches, authorities said Thursday.

Prosecutors in the Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo, where Playa del Carmen is located, said that the children and adolescents were from the largely indigenous and impoverished state of Chiapas.

The children had been promised that they would be paid and could send money home to their families. But when they asked for their pay, the adults they worked for said it had already been sent to their parents. Notebooks were found with registers of names and amounts, prosecutors said, but it remained under investigation whether the money had been sent.

Prosecutors said the kids were forced to work dawn to dusk, and were filthy, poorly dressed and undernourished when found.

Two suspects were detained at the low-slung complex of rented rooms in Playa del Carmen. No charges were announced, but Mexico has laws against child exploitation or trafficking.

The kids were transferred to a child welfare agency. It was not clear when or if they would be returned to their parents.

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