The head of a phoney church who is in jail in Colombia awaiting extradition to the US to face trial for selling bleach fluids as a “miracle cure” for Covid-19 is continuing to tout the potentially fatal products from his prison cell through social media and text messages.
The Guardian has learned that Mark Grenon, who calls himself the “archbishop” of the Genesis II “church”, is distributing bleach to at least 75 other prisoners in La Picota penitentiary in Bogotá, where he is being held captive. He has revealed that he is obtaining the product through secret channels and that the chemicals are in plentiful supply in the jail.
“You can’t get it on the outside, but we got it on the inside,” he said in a phone call, a recording of which has been heard by the Guardian. He added that more than 75 prisoners were taking the “cure” as a remedy for a range of ailments including diabetes and gastritis.
Grenon appears to have use of a clandestine phone, which allows him to remain in full contact with the outside world and on the internet despite the fact that he is facing serious criminal charges in the US relating to his bleach-peddling activities. He regularly advocates for bleach as a miracle cure from his prison cell using private pages on Facebook and the mobile messaging app Telegram.
Grenon and three of his sons were indicted by a grand jury in Miami in April. They face potentially long prison sentences for fraudulently marketing and selling a product they call MMS or “Miracle Mineral Solution”, which they say is a miracle cure for Covid, cancer, malaria and many other illnesses.
In fact, the chemicals are routinely used as bleach in textile and other industrial processes.
Grenon’s son Joseph is being held with him at La Picota. The two other sons, Jonathan and Jordan, are in jail in Miami awaiting trial scheduled for March.
The US Food and Drug Administration has been attempting over the past several months to clamp down on illegal sales of bleach products as miracle cures. The agency has issued stern warnings that the chemicals can be fatal when consumed.
The FDA describes MMS as a “powerful bleach typically used for industrial water treatment or bleaching textiles, pulp and paper”. The agency says imbibing it can cause diarrhea and severe vomiting that can in turn depress blood pressure with life-threatening consequences.
Fiona O’Leary, a campaigner against medical misinformation, said that Grenon’s on-going activities from prison were a cause for great concern. “The man is bleaching other prisoners and continuing to push bleach to parents with young children. He is endangering young lives.”
Among Grenon’s recent private posts on Facebook is one in which he complains about his treatment at the hands of the FDA. “What would you do if this happened to you?” he wrote. “Kidnapped by the justice system to silence you from helping people to be healthy.”
Despite his incarceration, Grenon remains a powerhouse of medical misinformation. He circulates anti-vaxxer videos attempting to dissuade people from getting vaccinated against Covid.
He also continues to encourage parents of children as young as six who have been infected with Covid to give their kids baths in bleach solution and to make them swallow bleach powder in capsule form as a purported remedy for the illness.
“Children do pretty good,” he said in one exchange with a parent of a six-year-old. “Give the child two or three drops [of bleach] every couple of hours.”