Head of Mexican Megachurch Charged with Child Pornography

Head of Mexican Megachurch Charged with Child Pornography

A California Department of Corrections officer speaks to inmates at Chino State Prison in Chino, Calif., on Dec. 10, 2010. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Jill McLaughlin
Jill McLaughlin

10/26/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

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A federal grand jury charged the head of a Mexican megachurch Oct. 25 with two counts related to child pornography.
Naasón Joaquín García 54, head of La Luz del Mundo, is already serving a 17-year sentence in California state prison in Chino for three state counts involving sex with a minor.
He now faces two federal charges and up to 40 years in federal prison.
Mr. García has been in state custody since his arrest in 2019 at the Los Angeles International Airport, where authorities say he had an iPad containing five videos showing a minor engaging in sexual activity.
He pleaded guilty last year to two state charges of forcible oral copulation on a minor and one count of committing a lewd act on a child who was 15.
At the time of his arrest, Mr. Garcia was the third leader of the Mexico-based La Luz del Mundo church, following his father, Samuel Joaquín Flores. Before that, he served as a minister for the megachurch in Santa Ana and other cities throughout Southern California and Arizona until 2014.
The church, which claims to have 5 million followers worldwide, said at the time of his arrest, that Mr. García pleaded guilty because he didn’t think he could get a fair trial, according to the Associated Press.
The U.S. District Attorney’s Office waited until the state case was decided before bringing the two additional federal charges, spokesman Ciaran McEvoy told The Epoch Times.
According to the federal indictment, the defendant is charged with one count of coercing a minor, who was 16 years old at the time, to engage in sexually explicit conduct. The second charge is related to the videos allegedly found on Mr. García’s iPad.
If convicted of both federal charges, Mr. García would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and a maximum sentence of 30 years for production of child pornography and a maximum sentence of 10 years for the child pornography possession count.
“The penalties in federal court are quite severe for this,” Mr. McEvoy told The Epoch Times.
A judge would determine if Mr. García will serve the time concurrently or in addition to his state sentence.
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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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