Mexican immigration authorities broke up what they said was a sex slavery cult operating along the U.S.-Mexican border.
The Defensores de Cristo (Defenders of Christ) allegedly recruited women to have sex with a Spanish man who claimed to be Christ reincarnated, an official from a victims’ advocacy group told the Associated Press.
Cult members were forced to provide sex, prostitution and forced labor, according to Mexico’s National Immigration Institute, which filed a complaint last year about Defensores de Cristo.
The alleged sex slavery cult was broken up when Mexican immigration officials and federal police swarmed a house earlier this week near Nuevo Laredo, a Mexican border town near Laredo, Texas. Authorities allegedly found cult members and children living in “filthy conditions,” the victims’ advocacy group official told the AP.
Leaders of the sex slavery cult allegedly made members pay “tithes” by doing forced labor or paying money, the National Immigration Institute said.
Fourteen foreigners were detained in the raid of the alleged sex slavery cult, including six Spaniards, two Brazilians, two Bolivians, two Venezuelans, an Argentinian and an Ecuadorian, the AP reported.
In addition, 10 Mexicans were found living in the Nuevo Laredo home, most of them women who were believed to be victims of the sex slavery cult.
The Mexico Attorney General’s office said charges were pending among those who were detained. The office said it will be difficult to determine who the victims and abusers were in the sex slavery cult.
The cult was operating in an area known to be a stronghold of the violent Zetas drug cartel, the AP reported.
The cult had not registered as a religious group, which is required under Mexican law, the country’s Interior Department said.
Myrna Garcia, activist for the Support Network of Cult Victims who has worked with Defensores de Cristo victims, said the breakup of the cult’s Mexican operation does not necessarily mean the group is dead. She said it’s possible the sex slavery cult has a presence in Peru and Argentina.