Things That Matter

The Leader Of A Mexico-Based Church Has Been Charged With Sex Crimes Against Minors In Los Angeles

The leader of the La Luz Del Mundo, a Mexico-based church with branches in the U.S, was arrested on suspicion of human trafficking, forcible rape of a minor, and other felonies, prosecutors said Tuesday. Naasón Joaquín García was arrested in California and according to the church group, he is claimed to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. García as well as Alondra Ocampo, Azalea Rangel Melendez and Susana Medina Oaxaca, all of whom are linked with La Luz Del Mundo, allegedly committed 26 felonies in Los Angeles County between 2015 and 2018.

La Luz Del Mundo, which means “The Light of the World”, was founded in 1926 by García’s grandfather, Eusebio Joaquín González. The organization has faced controversy in the past and has been subject to criticism for its practices.

Prosecutors say there were four victims, three of whom were children.

According to prosecutors, García and his co-defendants allegedly coerced minors into performing illegal sexual acts. Members would tell them that if they went against any of García’s orders as “the Apostle,” they were defying God as well.

In a 19-page criminal complaint filed to the LA County Superior Court, victims were forced to perform “flirty dances” for García wearing “as little clothing as possible.” The criminal complaint also states that a child and a woman were raped. It notes that Ocampo directed victims to remove all clothing and sexually touch one another while she took pictures to send to García.

“Crimes like those alleged in this complaint have no place in our society. Period,” California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said at a press conference. “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.”

A California judge raised García’s bail amount on Tuesday from $25 million to $50 million after investigators conducted additional search warrants.

Despite the charges and arrests, the church has denied the claims and say that García remains the spiritual leader of the group.

La Luz Del Mundo, which claims to have 5 million followers in 58 countries, has adamantly denied the charges against García. The church group is standing by the leader and have called the accusations “false”.

“We believe these accusations are defamation and slander of our international director, the apostle of Jesus Christ,” Silem García, a church spokesman, told the AP. “His position as an apostle of Jesus Christ was given to him by God, and for life, and he continues to lead the church.”

Worshipers and supports gathered to pray at the La Luz del Mundo church in East LA on Wednesday. Many of them were still in shock of the news and believe that Garcia is the target of a “smear campaign.”

“We’re united in prayer,” Jack Freeman, a minister who has been with the church for 27 years, told the LA Times. “An attack like this, which is meant to stumble us or bring us apart, it actually brings us closer together…. We’re not giving up. The church is still going to go forward. We believe this is still the church of the Lord.”

Reaction on social media has been nothing short of angry and shocked at the news of the accusations.

Many on social media couldn’t believe the details of Garcia’s crimes and have pointed to the church for not preventing this. Some have even gone as far as claiming followers of the religious group as “brainwashed.”

“Not to be the one who gets involved in religious matters….. BUT I knew there was something wrong with that “church”. I mean any person could see that…unless of course you were brainwashed by him and his followers.” One user wrote on Twitter.

As more details are revealed in the coming days, prosecutes hope more victims come forward.

“It would be hard to believe that, based on the information that we’re collecting, that it’s only these four individuals,” Attorney General Xavier Becerra said at a press conference, urging any victims to come forward, on Thursday.

Beccera said the investigation began last year when a tip came in through a website seeking victims of clergy sex abuse. He believes there are still more victims out there and is hoping justice is served on their behalf.

“You don’t do that to children, you don’t do that to adults,” Beccera said. “You don’t hide behind some religious veil, no law of California, no law of humankind and certainly no law of God would permit to occur what Naasón Joaquín García is alleged to have committed in this case against young girls and others.”

READ: The Pope Thinks That Mexico’s Struggle With Violence Is Because Of The Devil And La Virgen De Guadalupe

El Chapo’s Daughter Is Using His Name And Face to Launch A Beer Brand After She Launched A Fashion Line

Culture

El Chapo’s Daughter Is Using His Name And Face to Launch A Beer Brand After She Launched A Fashion Line

elchapo701 / Instagram

It seems like everybody today is trying to get in on the alcohol business. Whether it’s The Rock with a new tequila brand or Ryan Reynolds buying a gin company, it seems to be all the rage right now that even “El Chapo” is getting his own line of beers. 

Say hello to the “El Chapo 701” brand run by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s daughter Alejandrina Guzman Salazar, who also is behind a fashion and lifestyle company built around her jailed father’s brand. The new line of beer, called El Chapo Mexican Lager, was unveiled for the first time to the public on Jan. 14 at a fashion trade show in Guadalajara, Mexico. 

“It hasn’t been released for sale to the public yet. I just brought some to display,” spokeswoman Adriana Ituarte told AFP, as the beer line is currently still waiting on government approval to sell beer in Mexico. The alcohol displayed at the trade showed brown, black and white labeled craft beer bottles with the Sinaloa cartel leader’s infamous mustache face adorned on them. 

Alejandrina Guzman Salazar’s company is banking on the idea that people will want to buy craft beer, labeled and named after her infamous father, at bars and markets in Mexico. 

Beer lovers won’t have to break the bank either when it comes to purchasing the new line of beer which comes in at 70.10 pesos, or about $3.73, for a 355 ml bottle. There is also the name of the brand, “El Chapo 701” which has an interesting meaning behind it. The “701” is a reference to El Chapo’s place on the 2009 list of the world’s richest persons from Forbes magazine (estimated at $1 billion). 

The “El Chapo” beer is expected to have a large fan base due to the notoriety of the imprisoned drug cartel leader and a growing market for collectible celebrity alcoholic beverages like these. The company is hoping that, besides just the name and branding of the beer, fans will actually enjoy the drink and keep coming back to it.

“I don’t know if we take the label off and the beer is good if it’s going to sell,’  Ituarte told the Daily Mail. “But obviously the brand gives the plus of sale, we continue with the idea that we are selling and as long as the product is good, people buy it and like it.”

Ituarte said at the trade show that the product will be sold at bars throughout Mexico that also sell stock craft beer, a market that has flourished in Mexico City in recent years due to the growth of microbreweries. The lager was produced by La Chingonería, a Mexico City-based brewery company. 

“This is an artisanal beer, with 4 percent alcohol. This prototype is a lager, and it’s made up of malt, rice, and honey so it’s good,” Ituarte told Daily Mail. “And the idea is for it to be sold at bars that stock craft beer.”

This is not the first time that “El Chapo” has seen his name being cashed in on by his family. There has been a clothing and accessories line made in tribute of Guzman.

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Salazar’s company has already cashed in on her father’s name with a line of T items such as t-shirts, belts, purses, and jackets all adorned with imagery of Guzman and the 701 logo. The brand has been quite successful in under a year of going public which shows the power of “El Chapo’s” name. 

Salazar isn’t the only one getting in on the drug lord’s name. Last March Guzmán’s wife, Emma Coronel, launched a fashion and leisurewear line, licensed by her husband. “I’m very excited to start this project, which was based on ideas and concepts that my husband and I had years ago,” Coronel told CNN in a statement at the time of the launch. “It is a project dedicated to our daughters.”

These dedicated “El Chapo” brands show the notoriety and the power of his name when it comes to marketing. If this new beer line is anything like the clothing and accessories already released under his name, there is sure to be a market for this too. 

Guzman is currently serving a life sentence at a supermax prison in Colorado after being convicted on drug trafficking and weapons charges in 2019. El Chapo was forced to forfeit $12.6 billion as part of his punishment.

READ: California Man Is Using His Culture To Create Hilarious And Super Relevant Mexican Greet Cards

Mexico Admits That Hundreds Of HIV-Positive Mexicans Were Being Treated With Obsolete And Ineffective Medications

Things That Matter

Mexico Admits That Hundreds Of HIV-Positive Mexicans Were Being Treated With Obsolete And Ineffective Medications

Gobierno de Mexico

For a long time, it was considered that Mexico had averted the worst of the HIV/AIDS crisis that has plagued much of the Americas. For a country of its size and population, Mexico historically has had a very low incidence rate of HIV infection – even among populations considered at a high-risk.

Mexico is also a nation that has a robust public healthcare system that provides medical care to its citizens free-of-charge or at very low prices, including HIV medications.

Many looked to Mexico as a role model for developing countries confronting the worldwide HIV epidemic. However, after recent reports about obsolete medications being given to HIV and AIDS patients many are beginning to question that way of thinking.

Mexico’s Health ministry revealed that Mexico had been buying outdated medications from suppliers that no longer worked.

Credit: Gobierno de Mexico

Hugo López-Gatell, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, revealed this morning that some drug providers were selling outdated and obsolete HIV drugs to the federal government. Many of the drug being used by the government to treat HIV-positive patients were from the 1980s and have been proven ineffective around the world.

At a press conference, he explained that in late 2019, authorities realized that drug companies were intentionally manipulating the public bidding process in a scheme to sell outdated drugs to the public health ministry.

“The combination of medicines tells us about the enormous lack of proper HIV treatment because they [the HIV medications] are not adequate. In many cases we found the use of old medicines, we found the use of the first HIV drug that was invented or discovered at the beginning of the 80s. It is a drug that is already obsolete worldwide and in Mexico was still being used,” he said.

According to the government, however, it was the fault of the drug companies that were gaming a public health system.

Credit: Gobierno de Mexico

“What did we find?” That here were pressures from representatives of the pharmaceutical industry. We discovered that it was one group who made the medicines and that there were very few who distributed them. But they tie up the government with exclusive agreements to the different companies that manufacture the medicines,” he explained.

So basically, the distributors put pressure on doctors who specifically prescribed retroviral medications. He also clarified that purchases have always been made at the national level, however, they made no sense with the amounts of what they asked for in each state.

Despite this troubling revelation, the Ministry of Health has restated its commitment to securing the best care for those in need of HIV treatment.

Credit: Gilead Sciences

The undersecretary added: “In May, we completely modified the HIV treatment scheme. First, we made it clear that we wanted the best medications, the most effective, the safest; second, we identified how many people could have this ideal medication scheme and it turns out that there were many more than those who were taking advantage of it.”

This latest news comes just months after the country reformed its HIV treatment regime, leaving many fearful of shortages.

Public health officials warned of the possibility that thousands of Mexicans who rely on HIV treatment could be left without life-saving services after the government changed the way it funds treatment.

Reforms announced last month to centralize drug procurement risk sparking shortages, they say, while the government counters that it has ample supplies and hopes its changes will save money and cut corruption in the drug buying process. It’s these reforms they say that will help combat problems such as being sold outdated and obsolete drugs.

However, many HIV activists warn of a public health crisis.

In February, the government also said that it would no longer fund civil society organizations, leaving more than 200 groups fighting the disease without resources for core activities, such as HIV testing.