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Mexican investigators file money-laundering complaints against La Luz del Mundo

Young women pray outside the Luz del Mundo church in Guadalajara, Mexico.
(Refugio Ruiz / Associated Press)

Mexican investigators said Tuesday that they have filed money-laundering complaints against La Luz del Mundo church — whose leader has been charged in California with rape and sex-trafficking — and four other religious groups in Mexico.

The announcement from Mexico’s Financial Intelligence Unit did not directly identify the groups involved in the complaints. But an official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on pending cases, confirmed that La Luz del Mundo was among the five.

The unit said reviews of the groups’ transactions revealed some that “are unrelated to the purpose for which they were founded, and have not been reported to tax authorities, and for that reason constitute the generation of illegal income.”

Prosecutors will decide later whether to file formal charges.

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The statement added that religious groups “are vulnerable to being improperly used by organized crime groups, including terrorists, given that frequently they are subject to very little oversight by authorities and are given greater tax benefits by governments.”

Naasón Joaquin Garcia, the self-proclaimed apostle of La Luz del Mundo, has been charged with three dozen felony counts in California, including child rape and human trafficking. He has denied wrongdoing.

Alondra Ocampo, who has pleaded guilty to four counts in the La Luz del Mundo sex abuse case, suffered years of sexual abuse in the church as a minor, according to her attorney.

Prosecutors contend that Garcia and two other people committed sex crimes and also produced child pornography involving five women and girls who were church group members. The crimes took place between 2015 and 2018 in Los Angeles County, authorities allege.

Garcia is the spiritual leader of La Luz del Mundo, which is Spanish for “The Light of the World.” The Guadalajara, Mexico-based evangelical Christian church was founded by his grandfather and claims 5 million followers worldwide.


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