"Speedcuffs" by Skiddie2003 / Public Domain

3 Leaders of Filipino Church Are Charged With Running Human Trafficking Ring

Feb 3, 2020

By Neil Vigdor

Three leaders of a megachurch based in the Philippines were arrested on Wednesday in California and Virginia on charges that they ran a human trafficking ring, one that the Justice Department said had arranged for dozens of sham marriages in the United States to support a fraudulent charity.

The arrests coincided with raids at a Van Nuys, Calif., compound of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and other church properties in the Los Angeles area and in Hawaii by federal agents, who first started interviewing victims of the alleged human trafficking ring in 2015, the authorities said.

The three leaders — Guia Cabactulan, 59, Marissa Duenas, 41, and Amanda Estopare, 48 — brought church members to the United States under false pretenses, often telling them that they were invited to be special guests at a concert supporting the church’s ministry, federal prosecutors said.

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