‘Elite’ Religious Leader Charged in Child Sex-Trafficking Investigation
Leader of the La Luz del Mundo (The Light of the World) church arrested
The leader of an international religious organization, praised by Mexico's elites, is being held on charges of child rape, child trafficking, and other felonies, according to reports.
Leader of the La Luz del Mundo (The Light of the World) church, Naasón Joaquín García, was arrested at Los Angeles airport, California prosecutors said.
García, known as "the Apostle" amongst his followers, is facing 26 charges along with three of his female co-defendants.
California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the arrest sharing a 26-count indictment on his page.
According to Becerra, “Joaquín García and his co-defendants allegedly coerced victims into performing sexual acts by telling them that if they went against any of his desires or wishes as ‘the Apostle,’ that they were going against God.”
The news spread quickly cross Mexico where the Luz Del Mundo Church is headquartered.
The church is believed to have over 250,000 followers, which include some of Mexico’s elite.
But the group has been likened to a cult that preys on the poor.
The church denied the allegations against their leader, claiming to know the “honorable and exemplary life” of the “Apostle Nasoon Joaquin (Garcia)," according to Mexico’s SinEmbargo.Mx.
We have arrested and filed charges against Naasón Joaquín García and his co-defendants in a major sex trafficking case. They are alleged to have committed 26 felonies while leading La Luz Del Mundo, an international religious organization. https://t.co/wPDDxNczSO— Xavier Becerra (@AGBecerra) June 4, 2019
Acá "apostol de Jesucristo" y "Guardian del Espejo"; en California presunto traficante sexual... pic.twitter.com/nGvQfD7ZoC— Salvador García Soto (@SGarciaSoto) June 5, 2019
According to Breitbart: In recent days, Joaquin Garcia sparked controversy in Mexico after the country’s Cultural Secretariat opened the state-owned museum Bellas Artes Palace for a gala apparently honoring the controversial religious leader.
Government officials claim the event was a classical music and opera performance and not religious in nature.
According to SimEmbargo.Mx, those in attendance at the event included Mexico’s Senate Leader Marti Batres Guadarrama and famed actor turned Congressman Sergio Mayer. Another political leader, Senator Israel Zamora, requested the use of the venue.
In the aftermath of the event, Mexican politicians called the incident a classical music performance and denied that a government building was used for religious purposes. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called for an end to religious intolerance and more understanding between religions.
According to the BBC: The defendants are accused of coercing underage girls into performing sex acts.
The girls were reportedly told that if they went against the wishes of "the Apostle," they would be going against God.
"Crimes like those alleged... have no place in our society. Period," Mr. Becerra said.
"We must not turn a blind eye to sexual violence and trafficking in our state."
Mr García's co-defendants have been named as Alondra Ocampo, Azalea Rangel Meléndez and Susana Medina Oaxaca. They are all affiliated with La Luz del Mundo.
Among them, only Ms. Meléndez remains at large.