Venezuelan authorities locate 16 people who followed a woman into the Andes Mountains after she told them she received a revelation from the Virgin Mary
- On Thursday, Venezuelan cops found 16 people, including a spiritual advisor, who were reported missing after going on a retreat in the Andes Mountains
- The group was located at a farm house at a mountainous village in Tovar, Mérida, 35 miles from the Táchira city of La Grita where they reside
- Rosa García reportedly persuaded the group to join her for a spiritual retreat to Juan Pablo Peñaloza National Park in La Grita
- As many as 40 people abandoned their homes and took off in two vehicles August 22 for an encounter with God and the Virgin Mary
- Some individuals eventually quit and returned home due to religious differences with García, who instructed them no to look at the eyes of the Virgin Mary
Authorities in western Venezuela located 16 people who were reported missing after they were led into the Andes Mountains by a spiritual leader who claimed she had a revelation from the Virgin Mary that the world would be coming to an end.
The group was found Thursday afternoon in a mountainous village in Tovar, Mérida, 35 miles from the Táchira city of La Grita where they reside.
Táchira Governor Freddy Bernal said the individuals, around five children including an infant who is less than a month old, were in good health.
Bernal said a unit with the Penal and Criminal Investigation Service Corps discovered the group praying at a farm in the Tovar village of La Negra.
A group photo tweeted by the governor showed authorities posing with the group, which included six children, among them an infant who is less than 30 days old.
Venezuelan authorities pose for a photo Thursday after they located the 16 people who were reported missing after they were convinced by a 57-year-old spiritual leader to join her on a trip to the Andes Mountains to have an encounter with God and the Virgin Mary
A woman holds her child who is less than 30 days old after authorities found her and 14 other people who abandoned their homes in the Venezuelan town of La Grita to join a spiritual leader for a retreat in the Andes Mountains
Rosa García, 57, persuaded as many as 40 people to abandon their homes in La Grita, a town of 90,000 residents, to join her on a spiritual retreat to Juan Pablo Peñaloza National Park on August 22.
García told the group that they would be having an encounter with God and the Virgin Mary.
However, some members of the group dropped out of the trip after they noticed a change in the pattern of the woman’s behavior.
She reportedly instructed them that they could no longer pray to the Holy Christ of La Grita, that they were not to make eye contact with the Virgin Mary, and that they had to discard their cellular phones.
All of the 16 individuals, including a spiritual leader, were found safe at a farm in Páramo de La Negra, a mountainous village in Tovar, Mérida, 35 miles from the Táchira city of La Grita where they reside
La Grita Mayor Juan Escalante said the group had been staying at a home on a farm owned by a couple and were praying when the police discovered them
Authorities first initiated a search in the Andes Mountain region in La Grita, Venezuela, this week after 16 people, including a spiritual advisor, were reported missing
The group consisted around five children, including a baby (pictured being carried by a woman) who was less that 30 days old
During a press conference Wednesday, La Grita Mayor Juan Escalante said the spiritual retreat had been in the works for several months.
Escalante added that the group had been camping out at a farm visibility from a nearby dirt road was impaired because of the number of trees that surrounded it.
The mayor revealed that a couple opened their home to the group and also joined them in their prayer sessions.
‘The (man) approached them on one occasion and they were praying the rosary,’ Escalante said. ‘The husband of the owner of the house came to the site to bring them something and they also invited him to the rosary. They said to keep praying because difficult times are coming.’
Escalante said the group was not a religious sect, rather a prayer group that went on a retreat and did not commit a crime.
‘They disappeared and put the entire city and their families in a difficult situation.’
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