SAO PAULO – Brazilian authorities have arrested 22 leaders of a religious group suspected of trafficking congregants and forcing them work in slave-like conditions.
The Labor Ministry said Wednesday that the leaders of the “Jesus Evangelical Community, the Truth that Marks” persuaded members to donate all of their belongings to the group and live in communities where everything was shared. Police said the members worked long days for no pay on farms and in businesses, while the leaders amassed enormous wealth.
Authorities found the workers during raids in three states Tuesday when the arrests were made. The ministry said it did not have a final count of how many workers were found in slave-like conditions.
No one answered at telephone numbers listed for the organization.