A raid by Mexican police on an extreme Jewish sect that supports child marriage resulted in the arrest of two men and the reunion of a little kid with his ex-cult father.
According to a BBC story citing Israeli sources close to the operation, the Lev Tahor complex in Tapachula was stormed on Friday morning by Mexican federal police with the assistance of a volunteer Israeli squad that included former Mossad officers.
One of the children, age 3, was reunited with his father, Yisrael Amir, a former Lev Tahor adherent who had been battling for custody ever since he left the group some years ago. Several kids were saved, and one of them was rescued alongside his father.
Lev Tahor, called a “dangerous cult” by Israeli authorities, has been accused of abduction and sexual assault. Its tight guidelines requiring women to cover themselves from head to toe have caused some to refer to the organization as the “Jewish Taliban.”
The group has been residing in Tapachula, in the extreme southern Mexican state of Chiapas, since they left Guatemala in 2014 as a result of conflict with the country’s residents and visitors.
After landing at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday with his little son, Amir spoke to reporters: “From the time I fled, I only had one dream: to spare my kid from the misery of life in a cult.”
“I now look forward to creating my new life in Israel as a young parent.” According to N12 News, he said, “I couldn’t leave him to live a life of ruthlessly severe restrictions, mind control, malnutrition, and suffering.”
26 individuals were discovered at the property on Friday, according to Israel’s foreign ministry, and two of them—a Canadian and an Israeli citizen—were detained on suspicion of human trafficking and other sex-related crimes, including rape.
Israel reported that the Mexican Ministry of Welfare is housing the remaining group members, which includes youngsters, after five more were reportedly imprisoned for violating immigration laws.
Due to concerns that sect members would sooner murder them than give over custody, the group’s children were promptly removed from the adults, according to Israeli authorities.
Lev Tahor members in Mexico claim that they are being kept in “subhuman circumstances” at a facility in Huixtla and that the Israeli government is retaliating against them for their political convictions, according to Diario de Chiapas.
The families that were apprehended during the operation also maintained they possessed the required documentation and authorisation to reside in Mexico.
Messages from DailyMail.com on Tuesday went unanswered by representatives for the Chiapas state attorney general’s office and Mexico’s immigration department.
Israelis having dual citizenship in Canada, the United States, and Guatemala were among those detained during the operation, according to Israel’s foreign ministry.
The sect’s other family members, including the estranged father who is vying for custody of his child, Amir, have been lobbying the Mexican government to take action against the organization for a number of years.
According to the BBC, a four-person volunteer team from Israel, which included former Mossad operatives, helped the Mexican police organize and carry out the operation.
Following an investigation by the Special Prosecutor for Organized Crime, federal law enforcement and agents from the attorney general’s office conducted the raid (FEMDO).
According to Lev Tahor, it adheres to all applicable regulations in the nations where its members live.
Since its establishment in Israel in the 1980s, the organization has dispersed, with members now residing in the United States, Canada, North Macedonia, Morocco, Mexico, and Guatemala.
Two of the sect’s leaders were found guilty of charges including abduction and child sexual exploitation in New York last November.
Both Mayer Rosner, 45, and Nachman Helbrans, 39, received sentences of 12 years in federal prison.
In order to get a 14-year-old girl back into an illicit sexual connection with an adult male, the men “brazenly stole two children from their mother in the middle of the night,” according to US Attorney Damian Williams.
Conspiring to transfer a juvenile with the purpose to engage in illegal sexual behavior was one of the allegations brought against the men. This offense carries a required minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a potential sentence of life.
Rosner was Helbrans’ senior lieutenant, according to the prosecution, and Helbrans, the son of Lev Tahor founder Shlomo Helbrans, assumed leadership of the cult in 2017.
The younger Helbrans, according to the prosecution, tightened control over the organization and embraced extreme behaviors including child marriage and underage sex.