Photo shows Kingdom of Jesus Christ church founder Apollo Quiboloy.
Pastor Apollo Quiboloy Facebook Page
3 leaders of Quiboloy church in US indicted on human trafficking, immigration charges
Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - February 14, 2020 - 11:32am

MANILA, Philippines — A federal grand jury in California has charged three top administrators of the church founded by evangelist Apollo Quiboloy who were accused of overseeing a long-running scheme that forced followers to solicit donations for a bogus charity.

The one-count indictment returned by the grand jury alleged the three leaders of Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name of conspiring to committing labor trafficking, document servitude, immigration fraud and marriage fraud.

The defendants who charged in the indictment were Guia Cabactulan, Marissa Duenas and Amanda Estopare. They were arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in California and Virginia last month.

Cabactulan was the local church leader, while Duenas allegedly handled fraudulent immigration documents. Estopare, meanwhile, was in charge of fundraising quotas.

The three are scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment of February 20 in the US District Court in Santa Ana.

The conspiracy charge carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.

Labor trafficking, immigration fraud

The church administrators were accused of submitting false visa applications to allow KOJC members to come to US under false pretenses. But once the church members arrived, they were required to surrender their passports and were forced to work long hours soliciting donations for charity called Children’s Joy Foundation.

The church leaders confiscated the victims’ passport and other immigration documents “to prevent and restrict… KOJC workers’ liberty to move and travel in order to maintain the labor and services of KOJC workers, some of whom were and had been a victim of a severe form of trafficking,” the 17-page indictment said.

The money raised for the non-profit was supposed to benefit poor people in the Philippines but according to the indictment, most or all of the money was used to finance the operation of the church and the lifestyle of church leaders.

 “Other KOJC workers were unaware of the actual purpose until they were forced… to solicit on the streets nearly every day, year-round, working very long hours, and often sleeping in cars overnight, without normal access to over-the counter medicine or even clothes,” it said.

Sham marriages

Followers who were good at soliciting money were forced into sham marriages with KOJC workers who were US citizens. There were 82 marriages involving church administrators and workers over the past two decades.

According to the indictment, authorities found around 72 Philippine passports, seven US passports and one Ukraine passport as well as wedding rings when they raided KOJC compound in Van Nuys, California.

The search also found that Duenas has a file titled “Traitor” that contained information on KOJC members who fled the church founded by Quiboloy.

Quiboloy’s spokesperson claimed last month the charges were invented to shame the religious leader.

“We will show to you that this is nothing but a grand conspiracy of lies concocted by former members of KOJC who struck an alliance with forces who have an ax to grind against Pastor Quiboloy,” Israelito Torreon said.

In October 2018, Hawaii News Now reported that a former KOJC member accused Quiboloy of running a "child sex ring." Earlier that year, federal agents also found $350,000 worth of cash and gun parts inside his private jet.

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