Unveiling the La Luz del Mundo Cult: Sochil Martin’s Story of Resilience, Whistleblowing and Activism 

Sochil Martin is a Mexican-American woman who was born and raised in a religious high control group called La Luz del Mundo (LDM), which claims to have over 5 million members worldwide. LDM has been a part of Sochil’s family for four generations, starting with her great-grandmother being brought into the cult in Baja, California, Mexico. With the support of her husband, Sochil managed to escape from LDM and embarked on a journey to seek justice. In 2018, she blew the whistle on the organization to the California Department of Justice, exposing the abuse of leadership on its members and the sexual assault committed by the leader on women and minors. The leader, Naasón Joaquín García, is currently in state prison and has recently been indicted by the federal government for child pornography. Despite her efforts, Sochil’s family remains in the institution, cutting off all communication with her. 

Sochil’s upbringing was tumultuous, as she was a ward of the court until the age of 18. She never met her father and had only one brief contact with her biological mother, who was also a victim of grooming and trafficking. Sochil’s aunt, who later became her legal guardian, took her in. Despite the hardships she endured, Sochil forgives her aunt and family, understanding that they, too, were victims of manipulation and lies within LDM. Today, Sochil focuses her energy and time on raising awareness about organized crime within LDM. She highlights issues such as federal human trafficking for sexual exploitation, modern-day slavery, political corruption, and money laundering. Sochil is actively working to pass a federal law in Mexico that addresses human trafficking in high-control groups. She has formed alliances with fellow survivor advocates in the US and Mexico to combat child abuse and strive for a society where all individuals can live free from physical and mental bondage. She continues to fight to help liberate others still trapped in similar situations through prevention, justice, and healing.

La Luz del Mundo, established in the 1920s, claims to have 5 million followers in 58 countries, although official numbers are difficult to verify. Like the New Apostolic Reformation, LDM is a nontrinitarian church led by a self-proclaimed apostle who asserts the ability to communicate with God. The leader holds religious authority, proclaiming himself as the greatest figure on earth and discrediting all other churches. The current leader, Naasón Joaquín García, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in 2022 to a maximum of 16 years and eight months for the sexual abuse of children and child pornography. However, the plea deal was done without consulting the victims who testified, and the sentence was relatively short, considering the severity of the crimes. Despite the evidence, some members of the church argue that their leader is being persecuted, drawing parallels to the persecution of Jesus, and eagerly await his release. The group denies the accusations and maintains that their leader is innocent. 

Like many cults, LDM focuses on supporting specific politicians and donating to their campaigns in exchange for political favors. Despite the corruption and ongoing federal investigations, LDM still wields significant political power. Members spread misinformation campaigns and rumors on social media platforms like Reddit to discredit those who speak out against the group. Sochil herself has faced physical threats and an online hate campaign due to her decision to speak out. 

Sochil Martin, a fourth-generation member of LDM, was groomed for sexual exploitation from the age of 9 by the leader, with the permission of her aunt and legal guardian. She was promised to the leader at birth and subjected to a grooming process that sexualized her from a young age. By the time she was 12, she was dancing inappropriately for the leader and was essentially used as an enslaved person to support the growth of the organization. Sochil endured years of labor trafficking, extreme physical and sexual abuse and witnessed the mistreatment of other young women and children within the group. LDM views its members, particularly women and children, as the property of the leader, to be controlled and exploited. The group instills the belief that all good things in life come from the leader, with any misfortune attributed to personal sin. Clothing, appearance, and behavior are strictly regulated within LDM, with women expected to wear long skirts and adhere to a feminine image. Leaving the group means losing one’s family, home, community, and everything familiar. Cults like LDM discourage outside friendships, leaving members isolated and dependent solely on the community for support. This psychological imprisonment, described by Robert J. Lifton in his book “Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism,” includes the dispensing of existence, where leaving the group means losing the right to exist within it. Sochil explains how LDM sells followers a perfect afterlife, promising protection if they follow the leader’s commands. Leaving the group would mean losing this perceived salvation and facing eternal damnation. Exiting a cult can be confusing, as individuals have been conditioned not to trust their thoughts and abilities to discern reality. 

When attempting to communicate with a loved one still involved in a cult, it is crucial not to directly attack the leader, doctrine, or the group itself, as this may trigger defensiveness and a feeling of persecution. Instead, discussing other groups, such as Scientology, is helpful and allows them to draw parallels to their own experiences. Introducing the BITE model of authoritarian control, which explains behavior control, information control, thought control, and emotional control, can help individuals recognize their abnormal environment. Sochil found healing and understanding through the BITE model, as it helped her realize that her trauma was real and that she was not to blame. When engaging with someone still in a cult, expressing love and concern while offering support in developing an exit strategy can be influential. 

In 2020, Sochil co-founded the WithYou Foundation, an organization dedicated to changing legislation to support survivors of child human trafficking in high control groups. WithYou seeks to collaborate with therapists, educators, doctors, scientists, legislators, lobbyists, lawyers, AI experts, and survivor champions to bring about change for future generations. Sadly, it is currently without non-profit status due to lack of funds and resources needed to function properly.

As Sochil says, this war on information control and mind control has become a public health emergency. This issue is widespread, and legislation needs to be changed to criminalize the brainwashing tactics of cult leaders. Religious cult labor trafficking is a huge issue, and these cults should not be allowed to hide behind religious exemptions to justify slave labor. Sochil has helped FOM to create an updated Influence Continuum and BITE Model in Spanish so we can continue to put the word out and educate people to control their minds. These two documents are available now! The next project is to translate Hassan’s doctoral dissertation into Spanish! Then to translate the latest Combating Cult Mind Control book into Spanish.

HBO documentary on Sochil and La Luz del Mundo

Social Media 

Sochil’s Instagram @sochilmartin.healing 

Sochil’s Twitter/X @sochil_martin 

Relevant Blogs  

The BITE Model of Authoritarian Control: Undue Influence, Thought Reform, Brainwashing, Mind Control, Trafficking and the Law 

Relevant Websites  

Steven Hassan’s BITE Model of Authoritarian Control (now available in English and Spanish)

Steven Hassan’s Influence Continuum (now available in English and Spanish)