Authorities investigating a paramilitary Christian sect for child sexual abuse say they looking into whether the New Mexico group brought children into the country illegally.
Cibola County Sheriff Tony Mace told The Associated Press Tuesday that investigators found numerous children during a Sunday raid of the armed Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps in remote Fence Lake.
Exactly where the children came from is unknown because the sect apparently kept members from reporting births to state officials, Mace said. A former sect member says the group illegally brought at least one child to the U.S. from one of its foreign missions, which according to its website were operated in Africa, India and the Philippines.
“The children were trained not to talk to law enforcement or to hide from law enforcement,” Mace said.
During the raid, authorities arrested three sect members in connection with a child abuse and child sex abuse investigation. A former group member was arrested in Truth or Consequences.
Sect co-leader Deborah Green was arrested on charges that included failure to report the birth to child abuse and sexual penetration of a minor. Peter Green, also known as Mike Brandon, faces 100 counts of criminal sexual penetration of a child on suspicion of raping a girl “at least four times a week” from the time she was 7, according to court documents. Joshua Green, the son of sect founders Deborah and James Green, was charged with failure to report a birth. Stacey Miller faces one count each of intentional abuse of a child age 12 to 18, bribery of a witness and not reporting a birth.
The group in a statement called the allegations “just re-runs of old lies.”
The raid followed a two-year investigation of the sect by the Cibola County Sheriff’s Office in connection with the 2014 death of Miller’s 12-year-old son, Enoch Miller.
Mace said deputies surprised the sect’s Fence Lake compound during church services to ensure they arrested all group members at once. Deputies found weapons and silencers that they turned over to Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Former group adherents said sect leaders had physically abused adult members and children and forced them to work in slave-like conditions.
Julie Gudino, 50, a sect member from 1984-2004, said Deborah Green kept her 8-year-old son and threatened him harm if she didn’t complete her chores and later learned sect members physically abused the boy.
The organization describes itself as “aggressive and revolutionary for Jesus” and offers a free spiritual “ammo pack” to anyone who writes. The group’s website show members in military-style clothing. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps as a hate group.