December 7, 2005

Mexico shuts rehab center, deports US teenagers

TIJUANA, Mexico (Reuters) - Mexico has closed a boot camp
for troubled U.S. teenagers south of this city on the
California border and deported 13 youngsters whom workers are
suspected of abusing, health authorities said on Tuesday.

The U-Turn For Christ Youth Ranch, a group home for the
treatment of adolescent alcohol and drug addiction near the
Pacific-coast resort of Ensenada, was closed last Friday after
inspectors said they had found a range of violations at the

Juan Carlos Mariscal, a spokesman for Baja California state
health authorities, said youths attending the camp showed
"signs of physical and mental mistreatment" as well as insect
bites that had not received adequate medical attention.

He added that helpers at the home had no qualifications for
rehabilitation work, while the center itself lacked adequate
bathroom and dining facilities required under Mexican law.

It was unclear whether formal charges had been filed
against the center or its workers.

Newspaper reports said the center was reported to U.S. and
Mexican authorities in November, after four adolescent
residents ran away and said they had been mistreated.

Last year authorities closed four similar projects around
Ensenada and nearby Rosarito and deported hundreds of their
young residents to the United States.

The camps are generally spartan and operate on "tough-love"
principles, while parents are charged up to $5,000 per month
for the residential treatment.