Two people were arrested in an FBI raid at the Kingdom of Jesus Christ church in Los Angeles. The raid was part of an investigation into human trafficking and marriage fraud at the Philippines-based church. The leader of the church was taken into custody on immigration fraud charges and another worker was arrested for allegedly confiscating passports from the victims of the scheme.
The FBI accused church leaders of recruiting immigrants to help fundraise for the church and setting them up with sham marriages so they could stay in the United States. Over a 20-year period, the FBI believes the church facilitated 82 fraudulent marriages. The victims were sent across the country and forced to act as fundraisers for the church's charity, The Children's Joy Foundation. If they failed to meet their daily quotas, they faced brutal beatings.
Instead of using the money to help children, the church sent roughly $20 million back to the Philippines.
"Most of these funds appear to derive from street-level solicitation," according to the affidavit by FBI Special Agent Anne Wetzel. "Little to no money solicited appears to benefit impoverished or in-need children."
The FBI is conducting similar raids at other facilities associated with the church, including two places in Hawaii.
Photo: Getty Images