Mexico starts moving children out of squalid shelter where they were subjected to abuse

Mexican authorities began Saturday moving children out of a shelter where investigators say hundreds of minors were kept in squalid conditions and subjected to physical and sexual abuse.

Police raided the home, known as "La Gran Familia" and located in the western town of Zamora, Tuesday amid reports that five kidnapped children were being held there.

They found those children and much more: large piles of rotting food and other fetid trash, as well as horror stories about sleeping amid rats and insects -- and even being forced to perform oral sex on adults.

Of the shelter's more than 400 children, 48 were moved to the city of Guadalajara and were placed in the custody of the federal agency overseeing child welfare issues, representative Melissa Jonguitud told AFP.

The once highly regarded facility was founded and run by Rosa del Carmen Verduzco, an 80-year-old known as "Mama Rosa" who was arrested along with eight staff members.

At least one of those detained has confessed to sexual abuse, investigation spokesman Tomas Zeron has said, adding that some of the children at the shelter reportedly suffered physical abuse such as beatings or were kept in isolation with little food.

Currently in hospital after suffering a bout of high pressure during the raid of the shelter, Verduzco was expected to be released Saturday according to Zeron, who described her condition as "stable" and has cast doubt on whether she would ultimately be charged.

Prominent figures have rushed to her defense, including former president Vicente Fox and a group of writers and academics who published an open letter praising her work.

The transfer of children to Guadalajara occurred amid protests from some 20 parents and relatives who tried to block them from being taken away.

Some have camped outside the facility since the raid, pleading to get their children back and telling investigators shelter workers prevented them from seeing their youngsters for long periods of time.