SUNCION - A total of 80 Taiwanese people allegedly working in illegal gambling were detained in Paraguay by police, a prosecutor said Thursday.
The 57 men and 23 women were believed to have been illegally exploited as workers in a human and drug trafficking ring.
"They lived closed-in, cramped and exploited; they were exhausted and disoriented," said Alfredo Acosta, the prosecutor in charge of the investigation.
"We are assuming that they were working in online Chinese betting. Their work schedule was during the night and early morning, exactly business hours in China." He said the authorities were seeking those responsible for bringing the illegal workers to Paraguay.
One suspect, Ching Waing Lang, 35, has been arrested.
Police raided two houses in Ciudad del Este, on the border with Brazil, overnight Wednesday to Thursday, where they found the Taiwanese workers, who were using computers and various IT devices in cramped conditions.
"They were even likely forced to take certain drugs to stay awake at certain hours," Acosta said.
According to their identifying documents, the workers stopped in other countries before coming to Paraguay, where most arrived as tourists between November 14 and 29.
"None of them speaks Spanish, Portuguese or English," Acosta said.