Luis ‘Tito’ Morales was arrested in Ormond Beach, Florida on Thursday after authorities accused him of child trafficking, according to news reports. Morales, 57, has reportedly been accused of molesting at least six children, is currently facing federal prosecution in Orlando for five counts of transportation of a minor with the intent to engage in sexual activity. His alleged accomplice, 27-year-old Rebecca Rivera, is apparantly facing extradition to Orlando in connection to two counts of transportation of a minor with the intent to engage in sexual activity.
If concived as charged, Morales could be sentenced to life in prison. It remains unclear whether he has retained a private criminal defense lawyer. He was denied bail bond and remains incarcerated at Orange County Jail. Rivera was also denied bail, and it is similarly unknown whether she has retained an attorney.
According to press reports, Morales allegedly committed the sex crimes while acting as an Apostle of the En Fuego for Jesus Ministry, which operates out of his Ormond Beach home. The organization’s website, enfuegoforjesus.com, refers to Morales as ‘Apostle Tito,’ his wife as ‘Prophet Morales’ and encourages viewers to ‘contact En Fuego for Jesus for deliverance and healing.’ As of now, no charges have been filed against Linda Morales, and she appears to be supporting her husband as he undergoes prosecution.
A U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesperson reportedly stated that Morales is suspected of transporting at least six children across state lines and molesting them between 2009 and 2010, implying that he may be facing additional charges. It remains unclear where Morales allegedly found the children and whether the trafficking occurred with parental consent. If so, the parents of the children may also be facing charges.
Morales is reportedly being charged with transporting one girl between Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Arizona, and with transporting another between Florida and Hartford, Connecticuit. The two girls were reportedly 12 and 13 at the time of the alleged offense, and at least one of them was a Florida resident.
According to press reports, Morales acted as an apostle and performed exorcisms in the Carribean and South and Central America. A Honduras TV station reportedly recorded a video of his perfoming one of these exorcisms in Tegucigalpa. Morales may have committed the molestations during such exorcisms, sources indicate. Rivera, the other defendant, also traveled in connection to her role with the church, allegedly claiming that she could cure cancer.
A neighbor of the the Morales couple apparantly told the press that the couple used to hold religious services at their home, which sometimes included speaking in tonges. He also reported hearing yelling coming from Morales, his wife, and visitors to the home, which included what one news report described as ‘young men and women.’
The case is garnering extra attention because of Morales’ colorful history with the mafia. in the 1980s and 1990s, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reportedly did undercover work pertaining to threats against Morales’ life by mafia leaders. The threats allegedly stemmed from the fact that Morales was married to a mafia leader’s daughter and that he and the mafia leader did not get along.