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Confirmation of the 2009 FBI trafficking probe of Scientology that the church denied

Melissa Cronin over at RadarOnline dropped a bomb this morning that she let us in on recently: The FBI had complied with her request for documents related to its 2009/2010 human trafficking investigation of the Church of Scientology.

She tells us that she received a 300-page file pursuant to her request, and she posted a few of the initial pages this morning just to show finally that yes, this investigation did occur, even though the church lied repeatedly, saying that it did not.

“The church has no knowledge that this ‘examining’ ever occurred,” Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw said in 2013.

It was Lawrence Wright, in his epic 2011 New Yorker story about Paul Haggis who first revealed that the FBI investigation had taken place, although as we showed later, by that time the probe had already been abandoned.


Why the investigation ended was a complex situation that we wrote about at some length. Cronin tells us that the 300-page FBI file abruptly ends in May 2010, and sheds no new light on why it stopped.

But now, at least, there’s no doubt that the FBI did take this investigation seriously, denoting it a “Sensitive Investigative Matter” as it looked into the way Scientology’s most hardcore members, who had signed billion-year contracts, were being treated, particularly at its secretive international management base near Hemet, California:

The reporting agent received information that the elite branch of the Church of Scientology known as the “Sea Organization” (Sea Org) houses and employs thousands of Scientology members, including children and adults, utilizing force, fraud and coercion.

And the description the FBI gives summarizing the allegations by their informants should sound very familiar to readers of this website…

Based on interviews of former Sea org members (hereinafter Complainants), the Church of Scientology (COS) tricks young Scientologists into joining the Sea Org, promising good salaries, regular work hours, vacation and family visits. However, once Sea Org members begin their service, they are housed and held at secure locations where they work 15 hour days in various positions for Scientology-based companies. Sea Org members are given no days off, and are permitted only limited and monitored contact with anyone outside the camps where they live and work.

We expect to get a lot more information about this soon, and we’ll be adding reactions from some of the investigation’s participants to this piece.

As we told Cronin, with Leah Remini’s second season coming, this file could not be coming out at a worse time for the embattled church.

Reaction from Marc Headley: I know for a fact that many Ex-Sea Org members spent time with FBI agents sharing information about the Int Base and the Sea Org. I don’t think Claire or I have ever spoken about this on the record. If I can make it to HowdyCon, maybe I can tell you about what the FBI shared with us. Some of it was so exciting, it is how my second book starts out. I am pretty sure it will blow your mind.

Lori Hodgson: Glad this is finally getting out. I was a part of this FBI Human Trafficking investigation regarding my son Jeremy while he was in the Sea Org. The Sea Org made my son sign at age 16 a $3 million gag order to keep him quiet. They also kept him isolated for a couple weeks when he wanted to leave and made him do Security Checks. The Sea Org broke the law stating my son had official schooling when he did not. People wonder why I left Scientology…. here it is.

Mat Pesch: Like many other ex-Sea Org members, Amy Scobee and I were interviewed during the FBI’s investigation into Scientology. Amy and I were interviewed separately for hours over a two-day period. The agent was very professional and detailed. For example, when I mentioned that the passports of foreign staff were held by the church in a locked file cabinet, the agent wanted the exact location of the file cabinet. I got the idea that this was important for a potential raid. The agent wanted to know the “blow drill” that was done when a staff member tried to escape. The exact security at the location where the staff and RPF live, etc. To the agent it was all indicative of human trafficking. I was asked if I would be willing to help point out things if the FBI did a raid. I was also asked what I thought about the possibility of going back into the Sea Org to work for the FBI. The agent was very concerned about the information being gathered from multiple sources.

Jefferson Hawkins: I spent a full day with FBI agents, answering their questions. I briefed them in some detail about conditions at the Int Base and on the PAC RPF. The two agents were very knowledgeable about Scientology and asked very intelligent, probing questions. They told me that they had interviewed many Ex-SO, but did not say who. And yes, it was about human trafficking. They also told me, interestingly, that they were deliberately keeping the Clearwater FBI office out of the loop, as they knew there was someone in that office leaking information to Scientology.


Bonus items from our tipsters

Thanks very much to the tipster who sent us this invite that went out to all members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which is responsible for the Emmy Awards. And that means, our tipster points out, that pretty much all of Scientology’s celebrity actors would have received this invite. D’oh!



Countdown to Denver!


HowdyCon 2017: Denver, June 23-25 at the Residence Inn Denver City Center. Go here to start making your plans, and book your room soon!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,739 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,842 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,336 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,376 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,088 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 614 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,703 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,843 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,163 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,138 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 494 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,796 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 903 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,305 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,178 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 759 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,264 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,508 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,617 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on May 3, 2017 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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