There is a kind of 'Secret Service' that watches over the relatives of Naasón Joaquín García, leader of the congregation, assure different sources consulted by Univision Noticias. They allege that they have even intimidated people who left the cult and who are signed by the government.
ISAIAS ALVARADO NOV 21, 2019 - 05:26 PM EST
LOS ANGELES, California.-“Pedro” (not his real name) assures that he was “recruited” in a temple ofthe Light of the World,because as a child he was a rebel, a fighter and somewhat removed from religion.He did not fit in with the rest of the parishioners who were excited to tears listening to the shepherds.He says they saw another quality in him:the ability to care for church leaders.
“I was chosen to be part of the group that was in charge of defending the Joaquín,” says Pedro, who agrees to tell about his time in the evangelical congregation on condition that he not reveal his identity.
This man's account coincides with the statements of two sources close to the police investigation focused on the leader of La Luz del Mundo, Naasón Joaquín García, accused of child sexual abuse, rape, human trafficking, extortion and other serious charges. Several former church members, who were separately interviewed by Univision Noticias, also confirmed their version.
They allege that there is a secret guard who cares for the hierarchs of the congregation, the Joaquín family, their properties and their massive events. The group is called 'Jahzer' and is believed to be made up of members of the cult living in Mexico and the United States.
"They are guards. They are there to silence the people who are against Naasón Joaquín, ”said a source familiar with the California Attorney General's case of sexual abuse. "One of them was denied entry to the United States, his visa was taken away, and they are looking for others."
Univision Noticias has photos of alleged Light of the World guards holding weapons. In one of those images a young man appears who points a gun at the person who photographed him. The source said the state attorney's office has their names and photos, and that they have already notified federal authorities fearing they will travel to the United States to intimidate victims and potential witnesses."They (the prosecutors) were given a list with the names of those people and their photos," the source said.
The church denies the existence of these guards
Both the California Attorney General's Office and the US State Department declined to comment. The state prosecutor's office has mentioned in the past that, seeking to protect the integrity of the case, it will not comment for the moment on the criminal process against Naasón Joaquín García.
This medium showed the photographs of the “bodyguards” to several former members of that organization and some of them were able to verify their full names.
Eliezer Gutiérrez, spokesperson for La Luz del Mundo, denied that within the congregation there is a group expressly created to take care of the safety of their leaders and family members.
"The church, as an institution, does not have any private security company," said the spokesperson, who mentioned that if certain parishioners decide to unite to care for the pastors, "they do so under their freedom."
Gutiérrez insisted that as part of the purposes of the religious cult, which has five million faithful and a presence in almost 60 countries, several of these Latin Americans, "there is no creating security companies."
He noted that the institution believes that the responsibility to protect the church, its leaders and members should rest primarily with law enforcement agencies. “In the church we respect the public institutions and the norms of each one of the states. We trust in the security that the State gives ”through the police forces, he emphasized.
He also advised people who have a pending complaint against members of the cult, to go to the government authorities."In case they feel that these circumstances affect them, there are the instances in which they can present" the complaints, Gutiérrez stressed.
"They are a type of secret service"
Another source that supports the authorities in the investigation against Naasón Joaquín said that these men had intimidated people who left the church. "They are going to knock on the door to tell them: 'Don't talk about Naasón, if you left the church, stay quiet,'" said the person who requested anonymity, noting that he is not authorized to speak to the press.
"What they do for the church is give it protection, they are legitimate members," he added.
This source explained that these guards operate on "levels": some care for the closest circle of the Joaquín, such as the bishops and their families; and others protect the houses, important temples and events, such as the Holy Supper, which is held every year at its headquarters in Guadalajara.
A former member of this church warned that the members of the 'Jahzer' group "are dangerous." Another person who left the cult claimed that one of her relatives was part of the escort. "They are at the door (of the houses) to see what is offered to the Joaquín", said this person.
There is a version that this body of vigilantes was created by Samuel Joaquín, the father of Naasón and who died in 2014. Then they called him 'The Guard of Jericho', because they guarded the house of Samuel Joaquín, located on Jericó Street, inside from Hermosa Provincia.
"They don't give you a penny"
Pedro affirms that until a few years ago he was in charge of protecting a relative of Naasón Joaquín in Mexico and the United States. He assures that he accompanied him everywhere and that he was in several luxurious properties, including the Silver Wolf ranch, the millionaire property that this family owns in Texas.
"If you see their cars, the mansion that is there, the zoo, you would be impressed," says this man, who says he was amazed to see the private jet owned by these religious leaders.
The luxuries he describes are consistent with the allegations that authorities have filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court asking that the pastor be denied bond. State police allege that Naasón Joaquín was traveling in a private jet, that he once spent $ 100,000 in Beverly Hills stores and that they found him about $ 200,000 in cash and gold when he searched his house in Los Angeles.
An Univision News investigation uncovered ten Joaquin properties in the US, including the Silver Wolf ranch in Texas, valued at $ 7.3 million.
Pedro relates that from a very young age the guards prepare themselves by learning combat techniques and that some carry weapons with a license from the authorities. He says that he was with other faithful who protected the Joaquín in California, New York, Illinois and Mexico. He claims that he was never paid for what he did. "They don't give you a penny, for them it was a great blessing," he said.
The identity of this man was verified with former members of La Luz del Mundo consulted by Univision Noticias, who assure that they saw him taking care of the Joaquín.
Pedro assures that he never called Naasón Joaquín "apostle", like the rest of the church. "We called him 'boss.' For example: 'The boss' said this,' The boss' wants that. '”
Article Courtesy of Univision and Isaias Alvarado - Originally in Spanish, translation courtesy of Google Translate.