The leader of a Mexican fundamentalist Christian church that boasts more than 1 million worldwide followers was busted in Los Angeles on charges of human trafficking, child rape, child pornography and other crimes, officials said.
Naasón Joaquín García, the head of La Luz Del Mundo, was charged Tuesday along with a group of other affiliates of the international religious organization for disturbing crimes against three girls and a woman, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced.
García, 50, and three co-defendants — Alondra Ocampo, Azalea Rangel Melendez and Susana Medina Oaxaca — allegedly committed 26 felonies in Los Angeles County between 2015 and 2018 while leading La Luz Del Mundo, officials said.
Prosecutors charge that García and his co-defendants allegedly coerced minors into performing sexual acts by telling them that if they went against any of García’s desires or wishes as “the Apostle,” they were defying God.
According to the 19-page criminal complaint filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the victims were forced to perform “flirty dances” for García wearing “as little clothing as possible.”
After they finished the dances, García “gave them a speech about a king having mistresses and stated that an apostle of God can never be judged for his actions,” the complaint says.
The complaint, which states that a child and woman were raped, also charges that Ocampo directed the victims to take off their clothes and touch each other sexually while Ocampo took photos to send to García.
“Crimes like those alleged in this complaint have no place in our society. Period,” said Becerra, adding, “We must not turn a blind eye to sexual violence and trafficking in our state. At the California Department of Justice, we will do everything we can to prevent and combat these heinous crimes so that our communities are safe.”
Garcia is being held in Los Angeles on $25 million bail.
Officials say García, Ocampo and Oaxaca were arrested Tuesday, while an arrest warrant was issued for Melendez, who remains at large.
David Correa, a spokesman for La Luz Del Mundo, rejected the charges, saying: “We categorically deny those false accusations … We know García personally and he is an honorable and honest man.”