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A Dangerous Cult Created by Swami Rajneesh in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico: My Son Lost His Life and Many Lies were Told
This is my story, Liubov Gerard, about the tragic loss of my son, Michael Gerard, at the age of 24 to a dangerous cult under the control of Rajnish Agarwal aka Swami Rajneesh in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. The name of his Ashram/Meditation Center in Mexico is called Ozen Cocom. My story is also about how the German Consulate’s office in Cancun, Mexico, reacted after they found out the truth about Michael’s disappearance and Mr. Agarwal’s criminal cover-up of my son’s likely death.
Michael became interested in the teaching of an Indian mystic named Osho a few years ago, and later became interested in Mr. Agarwal and his teachings. At first, in order for him to live in the commune in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, he was told that he would need to buy one of the properties there for 40,000 Euros. Since he did not have the money to purchase property, he was then told to bring $5000 but he did not have that either. Finally, he was allowed to come to the Ozen Cocom in April 2015, and he earned his stay by working. Michael lived at the Ozen Cocom until he went missing in September 2015. I warned Michael many times don’t go to Mexico with Mr. Agarwal that it was a dangerous cult, and I was worried that he would be harmed or would end up dead. Michael had psychological problems and he suffered many years with chronic depression.
My last contact with Michael was on August 23, 2015. I became increasingly worried and made contact with a female Facebook friend of his on September 10, 2015. Her Facebook name is Elena Burka and she is a follower of Mr. Agarwal. She had lived in the Ozen Cocom with Mr. Agarwal for a couple of years, but when I contacted her she was back home in Russia. I felt comfortable writing her because I am originally from the Ukraine and I speak and write Russian. I currently live in Germany. After a few communications with Ms. Burka, she told me that Mr. Agarwal informed her that Michael went to Tulum, Mexico, met a girl at a party and later gathered his belongings at the Ozen Cocom and left with her. Ms. Burka added that Michael was never heard from again. I wrote Mr. Agarwal twice about Michael’s disappearance. He never had the guts or concern to write me back. He likely was content with having others lie to me and did not want to put his lies in writing.
I made several attempts to involve the German Consulate in Cancun, Mexico with regard to my son’s disappearance. The first communications began in January 2015. I did not communicate with the consulate’s office again until my return to Germany, because I was living in Ukraine at that time. In my communications of April 2016, with the Head of the Mission, Rudolf Bittorf, at the Consulate office in Cancun, he informed me that on March 5, 2016 a consulate representative went to a house in Playa Del Carmen to investigate a package I sent to Michael in July 2015. There was no proof for delivery of the package. I was further told on May 3, 2016 they spoke with an accountant by the name of Isabel Diaz and showed her a photograph of Michael. At this meeting, Ms. Diaz reportedly recognized Michael’s picture and stated he lived with a couple of men in the house but they were all evicted in October 2015. When hearing this news, I was excited and very hopeful that Michael was okay.
It was not until October 13, 2016 that I found out from Anant Akash, a former follower of Mr. Agarwal, that this was a communal house about 25 kilometers away from the Ozen Cocom. Ms. Diaz, in her interview with the consulate’s representative, specifically mentioned Osho Chinmayo, a follower of Mr. Agarwal, as one of the people who was living in the house prior to October 2015. I was further told by Anant Akash that Michael never lived at this house and Ms. Diaz likely was the person that rented the house to Mr. Agarwal’s followers. He informed me that Michael would often stay there on Sundays and then come back to the Ozen Cocom on Mondays in the morning. I was told that the internet was fully functional there and he likely enjoyed the opportunity of being a way from Ozen Cocom. At the beginning of October 2015, the former residents of this rental property, including Osho Chinmayo, all began permanently living at the Ozen Cocom.
I was under the impression for many months that the German Consulate and the police actually went out to the Ozen Cocom and met with Mr. Agarwal. I now know, however, that the consulate instead had called Mr. Agarwal and believed the lies that were told. Lies that included Michael went to Tulum, Mexico to a party, met a woman, decided to travel with her, and no one heard from him after his departure. Sadly, there were many different stories (i.e., lies) communicated to me about Michael’s disappearance during the months of October 2015 thru May 2016, including correspondences from Elena Burka and Satyam Dhyanraj both followers of Mr. Agarwal.
It was not until nearly a year later that I, on or about August 8, 2016, ultimately found out the truth about my son’s disappearance through Anant Akash. He lived in the Ozen Cocom off and on for 15 months and knew my son. He told me that another communal member informed him that Michael was very depressed and went into the jungle with only a bed sheet. Anant Akash was informed several months later that Mr. Agarwal waited 3-5 days to have communal members search for him, and then he had my son’s belongings either burned or destroyed. Through many communications with Anant Akash, I found out that Mr. Agarwal had told lies to the consulate and requested his followers at the Ozen Cocom to lie about Michael’s disappearance. I was further informed that Mr. Agarwal consulted with one of his friend’s attorney in Mexico how best to handle the situation of Michael’s disappearance.
At an opening meeting with his followers, I was informed by Anant Akash that Mr. Agarwal directed them to lie to the German consulate authorities in Cancun, Mexico or any other officials in Mexico investigating my son’s disappearance. Mr. Agarwal added don’t talk to anyone about it unless you are asked. They were told, if asked, they were to say that Michael went to a party in Tulum and that was the last he was seen. Anant Akash further informed me that Mr. Agarwal told several of his individual followers to lie to me about Michael’s departure from the Ozen Cocom. Some individuals were told to say that Michael never lived at the Ozen Cocom and he was primarily travelling around Mexico with a backpack. The truth is, from what I found out from Anant Akash, Michael lived at the Ozen Cocom for the entire period of time that he left Germany, beginning in April 11, 2015 until his disappearance in September 2015. He never left once during this 5 month period except for overnight stays at one of the communal houses that was in the city away from the Ozen Cocom.
I read the letter Anant Akash wrote to the German Consulate in Cancun upon my return from Ukraine. I was there taking care of my sick mother. Shortly after my return, I contacted the consulate’s office. On September 19, 2016, I received a written response from Consulate’s Head of the Mission, Rudolf Bittorf. In his message, he stated that the government in the State of Quintana Roo was under transition, which Cancun is part of. He further indicated that only the Mexican law enforcement officials have jurisdiction and power to do an investigation so there was not much he could do at this point. He advised me to come to Mexico to present my case to the Mexican officials there.
On October 3, 2016, I called again and spoke directly to the Consulate’s Head of the Mission, Rudolf Bittorf, to see what updates they had. He shouted at me and said I should have not called him directly, and that I should have contacted his secretary. He told me that he had people in the reception hall and that he had such cases every day about people dying in Mexico. He added that he could no longer help because Michael’s behavior was like a suicide since he went into the jungle alone with only a bed sheet. He further suggested that I hire a private detective and a translator. The translator fee alone is $300 per day. I do not have this money.
In my communications with the German Consulate in Cancun and communications they had with Anant Akash, we were both told that the Mexican law enforcement officials would not do anything unless we were able to have a first-hand witness who is willing to provide an official statement about Michael’s disappearance. The problem is that the three people that Anant Akash has spoken to are either uncooperative or concerned about being killed by the Mexican mafia or jailed on false charges by the Mexican Police Additionally, it is important to note that I wrote to the Consulate’s office both in Berlin and Stuttgart in the 2nd week of September and they did not respond to my inquiries. On October 11, 2016, I received an email message from legal counsel from the German Consulate’s office in Mexico City. In this communication, I was informed that Rudolf Bittorf was doing his best in Cancun and was in regular contact with the police there.
I cried nearly every day since Michael’s disappearance, and then I find out the truth what happened nearly a year later that he walked into the jungle with only a bed sheet from a dirt path close to the Ozen Cocom in the Playa Del Carmen, Mexico area and never was found again. It is heartbreaking for a mother to lose a son and then be continually lied to about what happened to him, giving me false hope and searching for him in vain.
Questions that are important about my son’s disappearance include:
1) Why didn’t Elena Burka write and tell me the truth about Michael’s disappearance when she found out from Anant Akash the truth about his disappearance in April 2016?
2) Why did Mr. Agarwal lie to Elena Burka and to the German Consulate in Cancun about Michael’s disappearance?
3) Why did many of Mr. Agarwal’s followers at the Ozen Cocom stay quiet or lie when they knew the truth about his disappearance?
4) Why did they wait 3-5 days to search for Michael in the jungle when they knew his belongings were still in the housing unit that he was living in, and they knew he was in a very depressed state prior to walking into the jungle along a trail in close proximity to the Ozen Cocom?
5) Why did they lie that Michael had lived at the Ozen Cocom for 5 months without ever leaving?
6) Why did they destroy all his belongings in the housing unit he lived in at the Ozen Cocom when he was not found?
Anant Akash in his letter to the German Consulate in Cancun answers these questions. Mr. Agarwal’s and many of his followers’ main concern was only for the reputation and preservation of the Ozen Cocom. They did not want the police to investigate Michael’s disappearance because there was immigration fraud going on, people were living in housing units that were not approved to be lived in by the local government, and the Ozen Cocom was not in compliance with the regulatory environmental laws for living in a jungle. They also did not want bad publicity about the cult that Mr. Agarwal created there.
It is very hard as a mother to accept the loss of my son under these circumstances. This cold-hearted man Mr. Agarwal only cared about himself and the cult he created. Michael can never be replaced but I want justice for him. I cry myself to sleep many nights and I sleep with his photos by my heart. I feel like I let my son down, that I have failed to protect him. And now I just want to expose Mr. Agarwal for the uncaring and lying criminal he is.
I am also disappointed and saddened by the German Consulate in Cancun, especially how I was treated by the Head of the Mission, Rudolf Bittorf in my phone conversation with him on October 3, 2016. Not a lot has been accomplished through his office or the Mexican police, although there is now ample proof that Mr. Agarwal lied about Michael’s disappearance and probable death as well as either burned or destroyed all his personal belongings after the fact. These are serious crimes in any country. Why has the law enforcement officials in Cancun, Mexico not started an investigation when there is clear evidence of crimes committed by Mr. Agarwal, as reported by Anant Akash?
Please, I beg you as a mother, who unnecessarily lost her young son to a dangerous and treacherous cult created by Mr. Agarwal, do not give this man any of your money, energy or support of any kind. He is a monster who has no heart about human life or doing what is right on behalf of others. My son died unnecessary because of this cult. It could have been prevented. Mr. Agarwal knew my son had deep emotional problems, but he did not send people to look for him until 3-5 days after he disappeared in the jungle. He likely knew that Michael was not working and staying in his room for several days before he disappeared, and was talking to people there in a way that showed he was not emotionally healthy. He was not eating and was not talking like a sane man. He stayed in his room during the day and was not working. But, even with all these telling circumstances, Mr. Agarwal still took no action to help my son or have a search party look for him immediately after his disappearance. He then criminally, as witnesses have informed Anant Akash, had a few of his followers either burn or destroy my son’s belongings, including his passport, wallet, clothes, and his cell phone to keep the lie.
On May 2, 2017, A man who wish to stay anonymous called me on Skype along with another young lady who also live in the commune. The man had lived at the Ozen Cocom for about 1 year and the young lady for nearly 2 years. The man translated for the young lady, who spoke English but not German. The young lady heard from Osho Chinmayo’s girlfriend, Ana Ozen that Michael hung himself in his living quarters, after returning from the jungle. She also said at 3 a.m. in the morning one night, shortly after his disappearance, she had heard very loud footsteps of someone running along the pathway where Michael slept. She stated in the Skype call that later that morning she and another girl were told to collect all Michael’s personal belongings in a bag and give them to Osho Chinmayo.
What has transpired since my son disappearance in the jungle of Playa Del Carmen, Mexico in September 2015, at the Ozen Cocom is unconscionable. My son Michael deserved better and so do I.