At least five US federal prosecutors are working to indict sensational Davao City religious leader Apollo Quiboloy along with a few of his affiliates, who face life in prison if convicted of sex trafficking. Homeland Security Investigations, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service's Fraud Detection and National Security Unit, the US Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service, and IRS Criminal Investigation were working with the FBI to reinforce the prosecutions against Quiboloy's party.
Quiboloy, the Davao-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) church's founder and leader, and eight of his colleagues were convicted of conspiracy to deal in sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, sex trafficking of children, marriage fraud, fraud and misuse of visas, bulk cash smuggling, promotional money laundering, concealment money laundering, and international promotional money laundering. According to documents provided by the US Attorney's Office for the Central District of California, the sex trafficking conspiracy alone carries a statutory maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Per the US Attorney's Office, Quiboloy and others face five substantive sex trafficking indictments, each with a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and a potential life sentence. All of the other charges in the indictment, including additional fraud, cash smuggling, and money laundering, carries a statutory maximum penalty of five to twenty years in prison. The other defendants are Teresita Tolibas Dandan, Helen Panilag, Felina Salinas, Guia Cabactulan, Marissa Duenas, Amanda Estopare, Bettina Padilla Roces, and Maria De Leon. At least three of the defendants – Salinas, Roces, and De Leon – were arrested on November 18, 2021, the same day the 42-count superseding indictment was unsealed. The prosecution panel is composed of assistant US attorneys Daniel H. Ahn, Jake D. Nare, Benjamin D. Lichtman, and Angela C. Makabali, a special assistant from the General Crimes Section. Also helping them is US attorney Katharine Schonbachler of the Asset Forfeiture Section. The FBI's investigation into the Quiboloy group's activities in the United States is still ongoing, according to FBI Los Angeles spokesperson Laura Eimiller on Monday, February 7. The FBI issued wanted posters for Quiboloy, Dandan, and Panilag on January 31, a move heavily criticized by the preacher's lawyers as "unnecessary." According to the US Attorney's Office's director of media relations, Thom Mrozekz, the FBI has asked possible victims or those with knowledge about the group's operations to contact investigators, especially at the Bureau's Los Angeles field office or through its website. Moreover, after receiving legal counsel in the United States, a group of former KOJC members canceled an online media briefing scheduled for Tuesday morning, February 8.
On Sunday, February 6, Quiboloy's lawyers – Ferdinand Topacio, Dinnah Tolentino Fuentes, and Hawaii-based Michael Jay Green – talked in an online media conference arranged by the pastor's Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI). Fuentes cautioned Quiboloy and his church's critics with lawsuits, whereas Topacio and Green contended that the indictment's unsealing in November 2021, and the FBI's subsequent publication of wanted posters for the preacher and two other defendants, were done on purpose to coincide with the Philippine elections. Topacio believed the FBI's goal was to "humiliate and embarrass" Quiboloy, attack his friend President Rodrigo Duterte, and tacitly sabotage the presidential and vice-presidential candidacies of running mates ex-senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos and Davao Mayor Sara Duterte. Quiboloy's attorneys also hinted at a protracted legal fight, beginning with the expected deportation proceedings. Eimiller said the FBI has “no comment on the case or statements made by the defense as the prosecution is pending.”