A Trinidadian pastor was among three people detained by police on Tuesday, following the discovery of 69 people being held at a facility in Arouca, described as a “church” but resembling a prison.
Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith described the case as “virtual modern-day slavery”.
He said the scene was barbaric and there were reports that some of the 65 men and four women were being tortured.
He said Taser guns and batons were seized.
Griffith said each case would be thoroughly investigated as it appeared that some family members were deliberately sending their loved ones to gain profit.
The “slaves” would also undergo thorough medical examinations as some claimed to have been there for years.
The sting operation coordinated by Griffith and executed by the Special Operation Response Team (SORT) went to the church at around 11pm.
“We have now cracked what is the biggest situations pertaining to human trafficking in this country,” he said.
Families had been taking their drug addicted relatives to the facility for help.
At the end of the treatment period, the managers would often advise that the addicts be kept for an additional period, at an additional cost.
The ‘inmates’ were not allowed to leave the location and security guards on duty were not allowed to take cell phones beyond the walls. One security guard was fired when he raised issue with the treatment of the inmates.
It is alleged that the ‘inmates’ were underfed, beaten, and caged. Some are mentally challenged.