The Latest: Church leader still 'apostle' despite his arrest

The Mexico-based La Luz del Mundo church says its so-called "apostle" arrested in California on charges of human trafficking and child rape remains the spiritual leader of the group

LOS ANGELES -- The Latest on the arrest on child rape charges of Naasón Joaquín García, the leader of the la Luz del Mundo church (all times local):

11:40 a.m.

The Mexico-based La Luz del Mundo church says its so-called "apostle" arrested in California on charges of human trafficking and child rape remains the spiritual leader of the group. It claims to have 5 million followers in 58 countries.

Church spokesman Silem García said Wednesday that Naasón Joaquín García is still the church's spiritual guide despite his arrest in Los Angeles and expressed confidence in his innocence.

Silem García called the charges "slander" and "defamation."

Naasón Joaquín García and three co-defendants face a 26-count felony complaint with allegations that range from human trafficking and production of child pornography to rape of a minor.

The charges detail allegations involving three girls and one woman between 2015 and 2018 in Los Angeles County.

Silem García and Naasón Joaquín García are not related.

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11:30 a.m.

The leader of the Mexico-based La Luz del Mundo church with branches in the U.S. has been charged in California with crimes involving human trafficking and child rape.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra's office said Tuesday that Naasón Joaquín García and a follower of the church, Susana Medina Oaxaca, 24, were arrested Monday after landing at Los Angeles International Airport,.

Around 1,000 worshippers gathered at the headquarters of La Luz del Mundo in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Tuesday evening to pray for García as he was held in Los Angeles on $25 million bail.

García, 50, and three co-defendants face a 26-count felony complaint with allegations that range from human trafficking and production of child pornography to rape of a minor. The charges detail allegations involving three girls and one woman between 2015 and 2018 in Los Angeles County.