Mexican church leader held on $50 mln bail in Los Angeles for sex crimes


LOS ANGELES – The head of a Mexican-based church, which claims over 1 million followers worldwide, was ordered held on $50 million bail in a Los Angeles court yesterday on charges that included human trafficking, child pornography and rape of a minor. La Luz Del Mundo (Light of the World) church leader Naason Joaquin Garcia, 50, was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday, prosecutors said.

Garcia and two of his co-defendants, Alondra Ocampo and Susana Medina Oaxaca, did not enter pleas, pending a formal arraignment on June 10. Judge Francis Bennett ordered the defendants to remain in custody until then. A warrant has been issued for a fourth defendant Rangel Melendez, officials said. All the accused are affiliated with La Luz Del Mundo, prosecutors said.

Defense lawyer Dmitry Gorin called Garcia’s $50 million bail “outrageous and unreasonable”. Garcia’s wife and three children were in the courtroom. The church, which considers Garcia to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, called the accusations unfounded.(Reuters)…[+]