Brazil Rescues 66 Charcoal Workers From Slave-Like Conditions

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Brazilian authorities rescued 66 people working under oppressive conditions in charcoal kilns in the South American nation’s biggest crackdown on modern slavery this year.

Most of the workers were recruited from other states on the promise of good pay and conditions only to have their personal documents withheld and be given lodgings that lacked basic appliances or, in some cases, even toilets, labor prosecutors from the state of Minas Gerais said in a statement. They didn’t have a proper place to eat, had to bathe with a hose and endured water shortages.

Brazil Rescues 66 Charcoal Workers From Slave-Like Conditions

In Brazil, charcoal produced from burning wood in kilns is used to make pig iron that in turn is sold to steelmakers. Production from the operations that employed the 66 workers wound up in plants near the central Minas Gerais cities of Sete Lagoas and Divinopolis, according to prosecutors.

The two small companies behind the operation weren’t identified. They were made to pay for return tickets for the workers and 970,000 reais ($171,000) in indemnities.

Brazil Rescues 66 Charcoal Workers From Slave-Like Conditions

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