Missionaries — or slavers?
An extraordinary case of “involuntary servitude” targeting the homeless has come to light in southern California with the arrest of twelve Imperial Valley Ministries leaders.
The organization styles itself as providing “missionaries to the drug addicts.”
The so-called church’s method, officials says, was used across the American Southwest since 2013: Entice homeless people with food, housing and rehabilitation facilities.
The reality: they were padlocked inside group homes when not working, their welfare benefits stolen, and put out on the streets 60 hours a week to solicit donations for the Ministries.
Eventually, a teenager in the El Centro, California headquarters was able to escape, and her account galvanized law enforcement led to the arrests.
Sources: Thomson Reuters Foundation, Los Angeles Times