Peruvian messianic sect linked to narcotrafficking

 

Members of the Evangelical Assocation of the Israelite Mission of the New Universal Covenant  (Asociación Evangélica de la Misión Israelita del Nuevo Pacto Universal),  founded in Peru by Ezequiel Ataucusi Gamonal in October 1968, have been linked to drug trafficking, according to a January 19 report in the Peruvian daily La República. Police investigating the sect determined that Brazilian members own or operate coca plantations and clandestine laboratories along the border dividing Brazil and Peru.  
 
According to a report, the presence of coca plots, supplies and drug laboratories has increased considerably over the last five years, coinciding with the migration of many members of the sect to the border region.
 
A leader of the sect says that his group is engaged in legitimate agriculture, but acknowledged that some members of the flock are linked to coca leaf plantations. 
Some media reports suggest that that while members of the sect seek to live their lives in the manner of the Christians of the first century A.D. The members of the sect are notable for wearing garb reminiscent of the Mideast, while the men refrain from cutting their hair or beards. Brazilian police detected coca plantations and clandestine drug manufacturing close to their communities. Apparently, drug traffickers are taking advantage of the presence of this congregation to conduct their operations.
 
Ezequiel Ataucusi Gamonal, founder of the sect, once claimed that he had received the Ten commandments as did the Biblical Prophet Moses, along with the mission of bringing together men and women to land along the Yavari River, on the borders of Brazil, Peru and Colombia. Over the past 15 years, more than 6,000 people migrated from the Peruvian Andes to the Amazon. In this region there are 17 communities, of which 15 belong to the so-called ‘Israelites.’ The sect has founded communities in a number of South and Central American countries, as well as Spain – which over the last 20 years has received thousands of South American immigrants.
 
In Peru, the sect’s current leader is Ezequiel Molina Ataucusi Jonah, the son of the founder, is revered by members as another Jesus Christ. After the death of the founder, he inherited the spirit of God, and is known as the Man or the Master. He lives in Lima, next to the world headquarters of the sect.
 
The sect's presence on the Amazon frontier has worried Brazilian authorities. In the last five years, coca leaf plantations were found in Brazilian territory, as well as supplies and clandestine laboratories for drug processing. According to Brazilian law enforcement, these labs produce between 50 and 100 metric tons of cocaine base, which is bound exclusively for the Brazilian market.
 


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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