TUXTLA GUTIRREZ (Mexico): Twenty members of the Jewish Lev Tahor sect escaped from detention in Mexico on Thursday following a raid targeting the group, which is accused of drug trafficking and rape.
“They destroyed the shelter” run by Mexican welfare authorities in the southern state of Chiapas and fled, said the government agency official.
“They hit the guards with stones,” the person added.
The incident occurred in Huixtla, 190 kilometres from the border with Guatemala, according to the official.
Television images showed members of the group, dressed in white and grey robes, struggling with two guards, one of whom fell to the ground.
Some were then seen getting into a white vehicle.
Lev Tahor was formed in the 1980s and members practise an ultra-Orthodox form of Judaism in which women wear black tunics covering them from head to toe.
The 20 sect members were taken to the shelter on Sept 23, after a raid by the Mexican authorities on their compound in the town of Tapachula.
The operation was revealed on Tuesday by Israel’s foreign ministry, which said that citizens of Israel, Canada, the United States and Guatemala were among those detained.
Two people wanted by police were believed to have left the compound days earlier, the ministry said in a statement.
“A private Israeli team” accompanied police, the ministry said, while the Israeli consul “was staying nearby” in order to ensure that the members of the sect were well treated and that the children were not separated from their mothers.
During the operation, a three-year-old boy was handed over to his father who had fled the sect several years ago, and both arrived in Israel on Monday, the statement said.
Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2022