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19-year-old Spaniard rescued from drug-fuelled doomsday sect in Peru jungle

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19-year-old Spaniard rescued from drug-fuelled doomsday sect in Peru jungle
Aguilar was found in an emaciated and unhygienic state, holding a baby. Photo: MUNICIPALITY OF SAN MARTIN DE PANGOA/AFP
10:30 CEST+02:00
Peruvian police have rescued 19-year-old Patricia Aguilar, missing for more than a year and a half, from the hands of a doomsday sect in a remote jungle area.

Patricia Aguilar, two other women and five children were discovered in a hut in San Martín de Pangoa in the center of the country, Peruvian police announced on Thursday.

According to José Antonio Capa, head of the anti-trafficking police unit, sect leader Félix Steven Manrique considered himself an envoy of God and called himself "Prince of Gurdjeff." 

He managed to groom Aguilar and other women through a Facebook group he set up, painting himself as a messiah on a mission to repopulate the world and one who would save his followers from the apocalypse.

In fact Manrique ran a harem of women who submitted to him. He forced them to have sex and consume Ayahuasca, an indigenous drink that causes hallucinations and anxiety attacks.

Aguilar was found in an emaciated and unhygienic state, holding a one-month-old baby.

Initial investigations suggest it is hers and Manrique's child. 

Photo: MUNICIPALITY OF SAN MARTIN DE PANGOA/AFP

Aguilar disappeared from her home in the Valencian city of Elche on January 7th 2017, shortly after turning 18. 

She allegedly told her family she was going to a friend's house, instead stealing €6,000 from her father's business and flying to Peru a few days later. 

Several months after she disappeared, the young woman told a Peruvian TV station that she was volunteering in Peru. 

But her father Alberto Aguilar told the Spanish press that his daughter had been brainwashed by a bizarre doomsday sect and presented evidence that the NGO Patricia was allegedly working for was bogus. 

Aguilar senior was able to raise funds to fly to Lima and search for his daughter, setting up a missing person Facebook page to increase awareness of the disappearance both in Spain and Peru. 

"We realized that little information was reaching Peru, they didn't even know about Patricia's case because of the kidnapping of another girl from Bilbao," Noelia Bru , cousin of Patricia's mother, told El Mundo.

Patricia's father was able to make several appearances on Peruvian TV, explaining how he was retracing his daughter's steps and asking the general public for help.

Patricia's family's work proved instrumental in aiding police to pinpoint her remote location. 

Upon arrest, sect leader Félix Steven Manrique was found meditating, while two women “presenting clear signs of violence and emaciation” worked by his side. 

Patricia's family are reported to be extremely relieved to have found her, even if she “doesn't want to have a relationship with us”. 

“My daughter's status in Peru is illegal, so we hope they will extradite her back to Spain,” Alberto Aguilar told El Mundo.

“Although we don't know what's going to happen to the baby, our idea is that it can come with Patricia back to Spain.”
 

Photo: MUNICIPALITY OF SAN MARTIN DE PANGOA/AFP

 
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