Attorney General Becerra Announces Arrest of Naasón Joaquín García, Leader of Religious Organization La Luz Del Mundo, in Major Sex Trafficking Case
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. Joaquín 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 over one million followers worldwide.
“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.”
In the criminal complaint filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the California Department of Justice alleges Joaquín García and his co-defendants committed 26 felonies in Southern California over a period of approximately four years. Joaquín García and his co-defendants allegedly 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. 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.
If you believe you have been a victim of sexual abuse or have information about incidents of sexual misconduct related to anyone who may be involved in this case, please call (323) 765-2100 or you can file a complaint online at https://oag.ca.gov/LLDM.
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.
As the state’s chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Becerra is committed to combatting human trafficking and safeguarding the rights of trafficking survivors. Last year, Attorney General Becerra helped bring down the world’s largest online brothel, Backpage.com, and convicted its CEO. Additionally, Attorney General Becerra testified before the U.S. Senate to push for the passage of the federal Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, which became law in 2018. The California Department of Justice has also fought to protect juvenile victims of trafficking, bringing 54 felony charges against the alleged operators of a statewide sex trafficking ring in 2017. Efforts to fight human trafficking have also included taking on labor exploitation. In 2018, Attorney General Becerra charged the operators of Rainbow Bright, a California adult residential and childcare company, with 59 criminal counts for alleged human trafficking and other alleged labor-related violations.
The arrests and charges announced today were the result of an investigation initiated by the California Department of Justice. The investigation began in 2018, in part, because of information submitted to the California Department of Justice through the clergy abuse online complaint form. The arrests were the result of a joint effort between the California Department of Justice and a number of law enforcement agencies, including Homeland Security Investigations within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Los Angeles Airport Police.
It is important to note that criminal charges are only allegations against a person. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty.
A copy of the complaint is available here.