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Sex-slavery cult in Mexico dismantled

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The Associated Press
Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, 8:58 p.m.
 

MEXICO CITY — Mexican officials broke up a bizarre cult that allegedly ran a sex-slavery ring among its followers on the U.S. border, authorities said on Tuesday.

The “Defensores de Cristo” or “Defenders of Christ” cult allegedly recruited women to have sex with a Spanish man who claimed he was the reincarnation of Christ. Followers were subjected to forced labor or sexual services, including prostitution, according to a victims' advocacy group that said it filed a complaint more than a year ago about the cult.

Federal police, agents of Mexico's National Immigration Institute and prosecutors raided a house earlier this week near Nuevo Laredo, across the border from Laredo, Texas, and found cult members, including children, living in filthy conditions.

The institute said 14 foreigners were detained and have been turned over to prosecutors, pending possible charges.

Those detained include six Spaniards, and two people each from Brazil, Bolivia and Venezuela. One person from Argentina and one from Ecuador were also detained. Spain's Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed its citizens were among those arrested.

The institute said 10 Mexicans were found at the house, mainly women, and are presumably among the victims of the cult.

The Attorney General's Office said the investigation was still under way. Given the binds of sect loyalty that had been built over an estimated three years, prosecutors were still trying to work out which of the detainees may be considered victims.

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