BRAZIL — The BBC ,the Suffolk Journal , and multiple news sources.released a story today stating Brazilian police arrested 13 members of a religious sect for alleged enslavement, human trafficking and money laundering. The Evangelical Community of Jesus, the Truth that Marks was targeted by Brazilian authorities.
Police raided several businesses owned by the group and is currently looking for nine more people, including the sect’s leader, who is identified as “Father Cicero.” The church is estimated to have approximately 6,000 followers, reported BBC.
According to statements released by investigators in Brazil, the church in São Paulo convinced “vulnerable” and “fragile” people to leave their families in exchange for a new life. The sect was egalitarian so they would give all of their possessions to the church. Once on the sect’s rural businesses, people were not compensated for work and would be under surveillance if they traveled to local town.
“The reality is this, it’s the manipulation of the mind. The guys can totally undo your life, make you leave your family,” said one unnamed follower to Brazilian news channel Globo G1. “When I opened my eyes it was too late. And there were lots like me. And they had handed over everything.”
Brazilian police said that the church’s hierarchy used the profits from donations, as well as unpaid labor, for land, houses and luxury cars. Authorities found the workers during raids in three states Tuesday when the now 22 arrests were made. The ministry said it did not have a final count of how many workers were found in slave-like conditions.