21 | AGO | 2019
Mexican religious leader accused of human trafficking, child rape
Naasón Joaquín García, the leader of The Light of the World Church - Photo: Carlos Zepeda/EL UNIVERSAL

Mexican religious leader accused of human trafficking, child rape

05/06/2019
14:29
Newsroom/EL UNIVERSAL in English
Mexico City
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The Light of the World Church is a religious organization present in 58 countries and has over 15,000 churches in the world

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Xavier Becerra, the Attorney General of California, announced the arrest of Naasón Joaquín García, the leader of The Light of the World Church.

The leader of a Mexican fundamentalist Christian church was arrested in Los Angeles on charges of human trafficking, child rape, child pornography, and other crimes, U.S. officials said.

Naasón Joaquín 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 The Light of the World Church.

Naasón Joaquín's bond was set at USD $50 million and his lawyer Dmitry Gorin called the USD $50 million bail “outrageous and unreasonable”. Naasón Joaquín's wife and three children were in the courtroom.

The organization, which has its headquarters in Guadalajara, Jalisco, claims more over 1 million followers worldwide and has two churches in East and West L.A.

Xavier Becerra said that: “crimes like those alleged in this complaint have no place in our society. Period (…) 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. If you see something, report it and we will vigorously pursue justice.”

According to documents, in August 2017, Ocampo told a group of girls in Los Angeles County that if they went against the desires or wishes of “the Apostle,” Naasón Joaquín, that they were going against God.

A month later, in September, Ocampo directed minors to perform “flirty” dances for Naasón Joaquín “wearing as little clothing as possible,” the complaint reads. After that dance, García supposedly gave a speech to the children about a king having a mistress and stated that an apostle of God can never be judged for his actions.

U.S. Prosecutors said four minor girls mentioned in the complaint were sexually assaulted.

Prosecutors further allege that Ocampo repeatedly took photos of naked girls, telling them that they were for “the servant of God,” referencing Naasón Joaquín.

The Luz Del Mundo Church quickly denied the accusations and defended its leader through social media:

But who is Naasón Joaquín?

Very little is known about Naasón Joaquín, the leader of one of the fastest-growing Christian churches in Mexico.

Naasón Joaquín was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco in 1969, he has been to Spain and Portugal as a missionary, and took over the church in 2014, after his father died. His followers refer to him as the “Apostle of Jesus Christ” and has been the minister of The Light of the World Church in the U.S. for over 22 years. 

The Light of the World Church is a religious organization present in 58 countries and has over 15,000 churches in the world. This church describes itself as the restoration of primitive Christianity. It does not use crosses or religious images in its worship services. Female members follow a dress code that includes long skirts and use head coverings during religious services.

Homage at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City

On May 15, The Light of the World Church paid homage to Naasón Joaquín for his 50th birthday at Mexico City's Palace of Fine Arts; nevertheless, since Mexico is a secular state, government-owned venues are not rented for religious purposes.

After a lot of criticism, the INBAL has denied it was a religious event and insists was a cultural event:

Ties to Mexican Politicians

Several Mexican politicians attended the May 15 event at the Palace of Fine Arts, including Martí Batres, Félix Salgado Macedonio, Sergio Mayer, and Julio Ramón Menchaca Salazar from Morena; Omar Obed Maceda Luna and Juan Manuel Fócil Pérez from the PRD; Roberto Moya Clemente from the PAN, and Gabriela Benavides Cobos from the PVEM, and Kehila Alzair Escalante from the MC, among others.

Authorities from the National Fine Arts and Literature Institute (INBAL) also attended, including Laura Ramírez Rasgado, the Undersecretary of the INBAL; José Agustín Ortiz Pinchetti, electoral attorney; Celia Marín Sasaki, a magistrate from Mexico City's Supreme Court.

Moreover, it was revealed that a Mexican Senator, Israel Zamora Guzmán, from the PVEM, paid MXN $158,000 for the event at the Palace of Fine Arts.

Israel Zamora Guzmán, PVEM, issued a statement defending Naasón:

Kehila Alzair Escalante, MC, congratulated the church leader on his birthday:

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