Authorities caught up with the alleged fugitive self-help guru behind the walls of a luxury gated community near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Mexican authorities took him into custody and delivered him to Texas on Monday March 26 2018. He is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday on federal sex-trafficking charges.
Since 2003, Raniere has been the head of NXIVM (pronounced Nex-e-um and rendered by authorities as Nxivm). The self-help organization promises to introduce “a new ethical understanding” in adherents with a mix of New Age jargon and Ayn Randian self-determination. But according to federal authorities, Raniere used his position of power to lock women into a bizarre master-slave relationship.
The arrest — which is based on FBI interviews with eight alleged victims — comes after years of scrutiny of NXIVM from media and state authorities, with critics blasting the Albany-area organization as a cultlike operation preying on susceptible subjects.
In 1998, Raniere founded Executive Success Programs Inc.; in 2003, NXIVM was founded as an “umbrella organization for ESP and other Raniere-affiliated entities,” the complaint states. Raniere allegedly sits at the top of the organization.
Prior to Nxivm, Raniere founded a discount-buying club that he later shut down after 23 states and two federal agencies launched investigations into allegations that it was a pyramid scheme. Raniere admitted to no wrongdoing but agreed to pay a monetary settlement.
In recent court documents, the government has also alleged Clare Bronfman, the heiress to the Seagram’s liquor fortune, is also one of Raniere’s main financial backers. She has not commented.
In October 2017, the New York Times published an investigation on NXIVM based on the testimony of defectors. The article included reporting on the branding ceremonies. According to documents filed with the court this week, shortly after the publication, the government began interviewing witnesses and victims. In November 2017, Raniere fled to Mexico, according to authorities.more » « less