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Mexico’s extreme Jewish sect members escape encampment

Twenty members of an ultra-orthodox Jewish sect managed to overcome guards and escape a government shelter in southern Mexico, where they were held since Friday’s arrest of one of their leaders on charges of organized crime and human trafficking.

Members of the Lev Tahor Sect, mostly children in long flowing robes, pushed their way through the complex Wednesday night. They climbed over one guard from a private security firm who had fallen to his death. The shelter for children and families of the federal government in Huixtla often receives migrants detained at immigration officers’ request.

They boarded a waiting truck outside, and they headed towards Mexico’s border with Guatemala. They were not pursued by Mexican police, the National Guard, or Mexico’s immigration agency.

Authorities arrested Menachem Endel Alt of Jerusalem on Friday for alleged organized crime and human trafficking in Tapachula, near the Guatemalan border. The sect members claimed that a second leader had been arrested but the authorities have not confirmed this.

Lev Tahor has faced legal difficulties elsewhere.

Two leaders of the group were convicted in New York last November of kidnapping, child sexual exploitation, and kidnapping. Two children were kidnapped by the group to return a 14-year-old girl to an illicit sexual relationship with an adult male.

It is believed that the sect has members in Canada and Mexico.

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