CASTELLON – In a major operation codenamed “Avicena,” the Spanish Guardia Civil has apprehended three individuals believed to be the leaders of a destructive sect operating from a villa in Pobla Tornesa (Castellón).
They are suspected of crimes including illegal association, labour intrusion, public health violations, sexual assault, and disclosure of secrets. Among the detainees are the sect’s teacher and her husband.
The destructive cult operated under the guise of a conventional psychotherapeutic group. The self-proclaimed leader presented herself as a teacher with exclusive access to the absolute truth, offering her alleged clients and followers the unique ability to solve their problems.
The leaders of this alleged cult had been engaged in these activities for years and recently established their operations in a villa in the Castellón town of Pobla Tornesa. Followers from various parts of Spain regularly attended the group’s ‘therapy sessions’ or shamanic rituals.
The investigation was initiated following a complaint filed by the parents of two victims who managed to escape the sect and were prepared to report the crimes they had endured.
Shamanic rituals and collective nudity
The cult was known for conducting shamanic rituals involving the consumption of drugs, mezcal, and hallucinogenic substances. These sessions were often followed by collective nudity and workshops focused on chakras and sexual therapies. On occasions, these acts were carried out against the will of the victims, after their autonomy had been suppressed. The leaders allegedly recorded some of these rituals at the Pobla Tornesa residence, where several instances of sexual abuse are believed to have occurred.
The sessions and rituals were conducted according to the whims of the teacher. To achieve their objectives, the victims were threatened with punishment, humiliation, and even the possibility of being shunned once emotional dependence on other members was established.
Vulnerable young individuals
All victims were recruited through individuals whom the organisation’s leaders trusted. The primary targets were vulnerable young individuals seeking solutions to their emotional or personal problems.
Most victims were initiated into the therapy sessions when they were around 20 years old, often facing emotional distress. Some victims even emained part of the group for more than 15 years, having joined as minors.
Furthermore, the victims’ susceptibility facilitated their manipulation by the leader, who employed various techniques of control, persuasion, emotional dependency, and isolation from their close circle to integrate them into the ‘Soul Family.’
Substantial sums of money
The leader conducted therapy sessions for the affected individuals in exchange for substantial sums of money. As victims became more loyal and emotionally dependent, the price of the sessions increased. Payments were made through methods intended to avoid detection by the authorities.
The victims are primarily located in the provinces of Tarragona, Castellón, and Barcelona, with estimated numbers reaching over a hundred based on reported complaints and the identification of additional victims over the course of the group’s prolonged activities.
The sect’s leaders even demanded that the most devoted followers undergo trust tests, requiring them to pay over €10,000 to gain access to the inner circle of the teacher. Those who refused were threatened with rejection by the rest of the individuals they had come to rely on after being separated from their social environment.
‘The Circle’ or ‘the Veterans’
Additionally, there existed an even more exclusive group known as “the Circle” or “the Veterans,” comprising individuals who had been part of the cult for over 15 years. They were entrusted with personal information about other members to exert influence over them.
During the search carried out at the villa where group sessions and supposed psychotherapy took place, a significant amount of cash was found, stored in envelopes labelled with the names of alleged victims. The authorities also discovered lists of payments for conducted sessions, and psychotropic substances used to induce hallucination, mental dissociation, and complete loss of will in the victims. Numerous agendas and notes containing personal details of potential victims connected to the sect were also seized.
The investigation, led by the Castellón Court of Instruction No. 3, will examine the three detainees, along with the collected evidence, during the judicial proceedings.
The operation was conducted by officers from the Information Group of the Guardia Civil Command of Tarragona, the Information Headquarters (UCE-3), and the Guardia Civil Command of Castellón.