LOS ANGELES - The leader of a Mexico-based evangelical megachurch who pleaded guilty to three sex-related counts involving minors was sentenced today to 16 years and eight months in prison, despite pleas by victims who asked a judge to reject the plea deal or sentence the defendant to a far longer prison term.
In addition to his prison time, Garcia is expected to be ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
The California Department of Justice led a multiyear investigation, which launched in 2018, and culminated in the arrest of García, Susana Medina Oaxaca, and Alondra Ocampo in 2019 for conduct that occurred over several years in Los Angeles County dating back to at least 2015.
García and Oaxaca were arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport upon arrival into the U.S. and Ocampo was also arrested separately in Los Angeles County. All three individuals are associated with La Luz del Mundo.
Over the course of the investigation and prosecution, prosecutors demonstrated that García’s criminal conduct was enabled by the individuals surrounding him and that García used his position of trust and authority as the leader of La Luz del Mundo to sexually abuse children.
As a result of the guilty plea, García was convicted of two counts of forcible oral copulation involving minors and one count of a lewd act upon a child who was 15 years old.
Oaxaca also pleaded guilty in court and was convicted of assault likely to cause great bodily injury. In 2020, Ocampo pleaded guilty to three felony counts of contact with a minor for the purposes of committing a sexual offense and one count of forcible sexual penetration. Ocampo will be sentenced at a later date. García and Ocampo remain in custody.
A fourth individual, Azalea Rangel Melendez, currently remains at large.