Mexican cult accused of kidnapping, forced labor

Below is an article written by CNN about a cult in Mexico accused of kidnapping and forced labor.

Mexican cult accused of forced labor

By Rafael Romo and Nick Parker, CNN

(CNN) — A cult operating in Mexico, along the U.S. border, is accused of kidnapping and forcing victims to work and have sex, the country’s National Migration Institute said Wednesday.

Fourteen foreigners — accused by victims’ relatives of demanding “tithes” from local followers — were detained, and at least some are in the process of being deported, said the federal attorney general’s office, or PGR.

Three Mexican citizens are being held on suspicion of human trafficking, the PGR said.

Immigration authorities and police raided the Defenders of Christ group in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, the migration institute said Tuesday night. Nuevo Laredo is across the border from its sister city, Laredo, Texas.

Six of the detained foreigners were Spanish, two Brazilian, two Bolivian, two Venezuelan, one Argentinean and one Ecuadorean.

The Defenders of Christ are not officially registered as a religious organization under Mexican law.

Authorities released the name of only one of those involved with the group, Jose Arenas Losanger Segovia, a Venezuelan identified as the leader of the organization, which “was characterized by its recruiting of people at the national level.”

A website for the cult identifies Losanger as an “apostle” of the reincarnation of Christ. The group believes that a man named Ignacio Gonzalez de Arriba is the reincarnation of Jesus.

Myrna Garcia, coordinator for the Support Network for Victims of Cults, says her group first received complaints about Gonzalez in December 2011. In February 2012, the group filed a complaint with authorities about the Defenders of Christ.

Garcia called Gonzalez “very dangerous because he manipulates the minds of people to satisfy his whims.”

The accusations that the cult victims network gathered paint a picture of a man who forced people into labor without pay or threatened to deny food.

“He was able to convince them that they had to behave in certain ways to satisfy his economic and sexual needs,” Garcia said.

Women were made to have sex with the men in the group, and polygamy was promoted in the cult, Garcia said.

Women were beaten and forced to prostitute themselves, she said.

Many of the victims became suicidal and lost contact with their families and children, she said.

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About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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