A church based in Davao City, Philippines, with a branch in Van Nuys, California, is accused of human trafficking and using recruits as slaves to raise money by begging in the street. FBI agents raided the California compound in January. Three church officials were arrested and charged with federal crimes in February.
What actually happened after their arrival is:
- Passports were confiscated
- Nearly every day they begged and solicited donations for the Children’s Joy Foundation, which claims to help poor Filipino children
- The money they spent on their food, lodging, or medical needs had to come from the cash raised above their daily quota. Many skipped meals and slept in cars to save money
- They made money by singing in restaurants, selling baked goods, and begging outside malls, Walmarts, and Home Depots
- Victims were forced to go without food and listen to the church leader’s recorded sermons for days in a locked room in the compound if quotas weren’t met
- Those who were good at raising money stayed in the US. They were forced to marry church members with US citizenship in sham ceremonies. Others enrolled at universities so they could qualify for student visas
The FBI interviewed at least a dozen victims. Several received temporary immigration status so they can stay in the US.
Agents found a church memo stating their fundraising goal for the US was about $457,000 in 2018. Church officials allegedly sent cash to the Philippines, rolled into the socks of church workers, and flown in bulk on private jets. About twenty million dollars was deposited in the church’s bank accounts from 2014 to mid-2019, according to bank records subpoenaed by investigators. Most of it came from human trafficking victims begging for donations.
Witnesses told the FBI Quiboloy lived a luxurious lifestyle, with a Bentley, Mercedes and bullet-proof Cadillac for his use in Davao City. The church is building a sports stadium called the “KJC King Dome.”
Three officials with the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name church in Van Nuys were charged with one count of conspiring to commit forced labor trafficking, document servitude and immigration and marriage fraud. The three, according to federal officials, are:
- Guia Cabactulan 59, the church’s top US official
- Marissa Duenas, 41, who handled immigration issues
- Amanda Estopare, 48, tracked fundraising and funneled money to the church’s leadership in the Philippines
Sex and labor trafficking are federal crimes. Those committing them victimize thousands of people held in modern-day bondage, forced to work in many industries and criminal enterprises, including begging in the street for sham charities. If you are a victim, call the Human Trafficking Project at 844-SEEKJUSTICE (844-733-5587) to get help. If you’re an attorney who wants to help them, contact us at 855-477-8284 x101.