Two leaders of the extreme ultra-Orthodox group Lev Tahor were released from a Mexican prison due to a “lack of evidence,” it was reported on Sunday, following their arrest in a raid several days earlier.
Court documents identified the two suspects as Menachem Mendel Alter from Israel and Canadian national Yoel Rosner.
The two were detained in southern Mexico on suspicion of alleged human trafficking and sex crimes and faced up to 20 years in prison.
Yaret Jimenez, the lawyer for both men, told Spanish news agency Efe that her clients were “100 percent acquitted.”
According to the report, Jimenez suggested that the accusations were used as a pretext for the raid in order to remove a 3-year-old child, who has since been reunited with his father, an ex-member of Lev Tahor, and taken to Israel.
An unnamed source involved in the raid told the BBC that releasing the suspects was a blow to “the impressive and untainted legal work accomplished by the Attorney General’s Office and the police prior to and during the raid.”
Lev Tahor — Hebrew for ‘pure of heart’ — was formed in 1988 in Israel and has been forced to move from country to country, amassing up to 350 members.
Roughly 20 members were removed from the compound and held in a government facility in the Mexican city of Huixtla, before breaking out on Wednesday night.