The Hermosa Provincia temple in Mexico is a symbol of the power of La Luz del Mundo church, but it is also a monument to the most terrible secrets and accusations against its leader, Naasón Joaquín, who is awaiting trial in the United States on charges of sexual abuse, possession of child pornography and human trafficking
The underground lair of La Luz del Mundo’s ‘apostle’; The apostle’s lair.
Hundreds of thousands of the faithful stood before him, dressed in white and weeping inconsolably. “Open their eyes so they can see Your glory,” declared Naasón Joaquín, leader of La Luz del Mundo (The Light of the World) church, as he raised his arms in the center of the atrium. Joaquín was holding forth in “the largest religious temple in Latin America,” a pyramid structure 83 meters high made from 5,000 tons of steel, and that took almost a decade to build. Behind him, the advent of “the greatest feast on Earth” – the Holy Supper – was announced by the chanting of the choir. It is the religious organization’s most important celebration, to which the parishioners are summoned every August 14 inside the church’s flagship temple in Hermosa Provincia (Beautiful Province), in the Mexican city of Guadalajara, drawn by the promise of eternal salvation.
Beneath the temple, which embodies La Luz del Mundo’s power, lies a series of tunnels or passages as they have been described by former members of the congregation, though the church itself describes the space as a basement. A secret place, this underground warren is the alleged scene of the terrible crimes that the leaders of the religious organization are accused of. “I have seen the tunnels and I can vouch for the fact they exist,” says Sochil Martín, a former assistant to Naasón Joaquín who reported him for multiple cases of sexual abuse. In that same underground network, another former collaborator, Alondra Ocampo, was raped as a child, according to her lawyer. That Holy Supper in August 2018, was the last one led by Naasón Joaquín, known as the Apostle of Jesus Christ to his followers. Ten months later, he was arrested at the airport in Los Angeles after landing there in a private jet. Joaquín was dressed in a suit; in one hand he held his phone and, in the other, a briefcase. Inside his luggage, the authorities found an iPad containing a video of a naked 14-year-old boy, masked and receiving oral sex. The woman performing the fellatio, according to testimonies presented by the prosecution, was the teenager’s aunt. Other images of minors having sex were found on Joaquín’s electronic devices. Claiming to have more than five million followers in nearly 60 countries and proclaiming himself to be God’s representative on Earth, Joaquín was about to stand trial in California on charges of more than 30 crimes, including possession of child pornography, sexual abuse and human trafficking.
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