Miss­ing girl found with jun­gle cult

Leader al­legedly used so­cial me­dia to en­tice young women to join him as he claimed he had been ‘cho­sen to re­pop­u­late the Earth’ af­ter the apoc­a­lypse

Costa Blanca News (South Edition) - - News - Photo: EFE awatkins@cb­news.es

By Alex Watkins PERU­VIAN po­lice have lo­cated a young Span­ish woman who had been con­vinced to leave her home in Elche in Jan­uary 2017 by the leader of a sect from the South Amer­i­can coun­try.

Fam­ily spokes­woman Noelia Bru told state news agency EFE that Pa­tri­cia Aguilar had just turned 18 at the time.

She was found last Wed­nes­day in a shack in the small town of San Martín de Pan­goa in Satipo, one of Peru’s most dan­ger­ous re­gions where drug traf­fick­ing groups and rem­nants of the Shin­ing Path ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion are ac­tive.

Sra Aguilar was the only adult there and look­ing af­ter five chil­dren, in­clud­ing her own one-month-old baby, who were not at­tend­ing school and liv­ing in un­hy­gienic con­di­tions. The op­er­a­tion was in­sti­gated by the Peru­vian pros­e­cu­tor for hu­man traf­fick­ing as a re­sult of the fam­ily’s tenac­ity to get her back, noted Sra Bru.

The leader of the so-called Gno­sis cult, Félix Steven Man­rique was found and ar­rested sev­eral kilo­me­tres away in the com­pany of two other women – one of them eight-months preg­nant – who were ‘very skinny and bore signs of vi­o­lence’.

Man­rique, who is aged 35 and likely to be the fa­ther of these chil­dren, faces an ac­cu­sa­tion of hu­man traf­fick­ing for sex­ual and labour ex­ploita­tion and the pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor has is­sued a war­rant for his ar­rest.

More charges are likely to be added, in­clud­ing child ne­glect, and two other al­leged vic­tims are now be­ing in­ves­ti­gated at the re­quest of their fam­i­lies.

He al­legedly used so­cial me­dia to en­tice young women to run away and join him in Peru, as he claimed to have been cho­sen to re­pop­u­late the Earth af­ter the apoc­a­lypse.

Ac­cord­ing to Sra Bru, he had been en­am­oured with Pa­tri­cia since she was 16, tak­ing ad­van­tage of the fact she had lost a very close rel­a­tive, but waited un­til she was 18 to con­vince her to leave.

“He won her over by claim­ing she had a mis­sion in the world and would find sal­va­tion,” she said.

A few months ago, af­ter be­ing lo­cated in Peru, Pa­tri­cia pub­lished videos as­sur­ing she was not be­ing held against her will.

The Peru­vian min­istry for women has of­fered pro­tec­tion and med­i­cal as­sis­tance to all of them. Sra Aguilar’s fam­ily are ‘look­ing for the best way’ to bring her back to Spain, ac­cord­ing to their lawyer from the NGO SOS De­sa­pare­ci­dos, but noted that the baby ‘makes it much more dif­fi­cult’.

Lawyer María Teresa Ro­jas ex­plained the baby had been wrapped in a small cloth and was cov­ered in in­sect bites, while the chil­dren were dirty and mal­nour­ished as ‘it seems they were only taken food once a week’.

She said Sra Aguilar is stay­ing at a shel­ter and un­der­go­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal and med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tions, and her fa­ther has only been able to see her from a dis­tance with­out es­tab­lish­ing con­tact.

Pa­tri­cia Aguilar and baby

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