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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
06/04/2019

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Leader of religious organization La Luz Del Mundo, arrested at LAX on multiple human trafficking and child pornography charges

Joint coordination by HSI, CBP and Los Angeles Airport Police at LAX leads to arrests

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced the arrest and filing of charges against Naasón Joaquín García (Joaquín García) and his co-defendants for alleged human trafficking, production of child pornography, forcible rape of a minor, and other felonies.

García and his co-defendants allegedly committed these crimes between 2015 and 2018 while leading La Luz Del Mundo, an international religious organization headquartered in Mexico with reportedly more than one million followers worldwide. 

The arrests in the case which occurred Monday, were the result of joint coordination by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Los Angeles Airport Police at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

“The coercion of minors is unconscionable under any circumstances, but the allegations are even more disturbing when the accused, like the defendant, hold positions of public trust” said Joseph Macias, Special Agent in Charge for HSI Los Angeles. “HSI will continue to work closely with our state and federal law enforcement partners to bring those who would sexually exploit children to justice. Anyone engaged in this manipulative and abusive conduct needs to know that law enforcement in the state of California has joined forces to stop them.”

The charges are the result of an investigation initiated in 2018 by the California Department of Justice (Cal DOJ) thanks to information submitted to Cal DOJ through the clergy abuse online complaint form. In the criminal complaint filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the California Department of Justice (Cal DOJ) alleges Joaquín García and his co-defendants committed 26 felonies in Southern California over a period of approximately four years

Court documents allege García and his co-defendants 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.

“Crimes like those alleged in this complaint have no place in our society. Period,” said Attorney General Becerra. “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.”

“This is a prime example of the exceptional vigilance of CBP officers at LAX in conducting their border security duties.” said Carlos C. Martel, CBP Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles. “The man and women of CBP apprehend individuals with outstanding warrants on a regular basis bringing them to justice, therefore ensuring the safety and security of the communities we serve.”

The other individuals named in the complaint are Alondra Ocampo, Azalea Rangel Melendez, and Susana Medina Oaxaca, all of whom are affiliated with La Luz Del Mundo. In addition to Joaquín García, Alondra Ocampo and Susana Medina Oaxaca were also arrested. An arrest warrant has also been issued for Azalea Rangel Melendez, who is currently at large.

Defendants facing state criminal allegations are eligible for bail in most cases, allowing them to await future court dates out of police custody if they have the financial resources to post bail. In this case, the court set bail for Joaquín García at $25 million.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

A copy of the complaint is available here.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 06/07/2019