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Inside the Secretive, Abusive World of Mexico's Private Drug Rehab Centers

Nathaniel Janowitz - VICE News
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April 28, 2016

80 inhabitants sleep "like sardines" in a single room for months at a time. (Nathaniel Janowitz/VICE News)

Mexican authorities provide very limited treatment for addicts, and almost no residential care, which means families struggling to cope rely almost exclusively on privately-run centers known colloquially as anexos, or annexes. The majority of the inhabitants, who are known as anexados, claim they were taken against their will and face a wide range of abuses — many of them criminal.

"It was surprising for me when I went to these centers and discovered stories of terror, abuse, mistreatment," says Carlos Zamudio, an anthropologist who specializes in drugs and addiction. He was the Mexico point person for an Open Society Foundation report, published in March, which detailed accusations of extreme physical, emotional, and sexual abuse at drug rehabilitation centers around Latin America, with an emphasis on Mexico's anexos.

Zamudio says that for him, the only thing more shocking than the tales he heard from addicts during his research was finding out their only option was to go to another one of these centers, which are sometimes worse.

Anexos are owned and run by padrinos — godfathers or sponsors. In the Mexican drug world a padrino, or madrina for a woman, is any former addict who has been able to stay clean. Many padrinos discover that reentering society and finding normal employment is difficult, and some decide their best option is to open their own anexo or get a job in one.

VICE News was given complete access to one such anexo on the condition of maintaining the anonymity of its location, padrinos, workers, and anexados.

Read the whole story at VICE News

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