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Press Release

Statement Of U.S. Attorney Damian Williams On The Convictions Of Three Lev Tahor Leaders Of Child Exploitation And Kidnapping Offenses

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

“Yoil Weingarten, Yakov Weingarten, and Shmiel Weingarten, leaders of Lev Tahor, an extremist Jewish sect based in Guatemala, have been found guilty of kidnapping a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl and transporting the 14-year-old girl outside the United States to continue a sexual relationship with her adult male ‘husband.’  With this verdict, all nine Lev Tahor leaders and operatives charged for these heinous crimes have been held accountable.  The defendants’ conduct — which included forced child marriages, physical beatings, and family separations — is unthinkable and has caused irreparable harm to children in their formative years.  Whether in the name of religion or any other belief system, subjecting children to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse will never be tolerated by this Office.”


Nicholas Biase, Lauren Scarff, Shelby Wratchford
(212) 637-2600

Updated March 27, 2024

Press Release Number: 24-105