At 8 a.m. on July 8, Food and Drug Administration agents backed up by Manatee County Sheriff’s deputies and Hazmat crews descended on a family compound in a quiet residential neighborhood of Bradenton, Florida.
Their quarry: family patriarch Mark Grenon and his Miracle Mineral Solution, a bleach-like substance he promotes as a religious sacrament and coronavirus cure.
Grenon, founder of Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, was not home. So agents arrested two of his adult sons, Jonathan and Jordan, and charged them with conspiring to defraud consumers by manufacturing and distributing a misbranded drug. They busted into the family’s safe, removing $65,000 in cash, gold and coins. They seized computers and documents, confiscated thousands of pounds of raw materials used to make MMS, then shut down the family’s New York bank accounts.
Interviewed on YouTube from his second home in Santa Marta, Columbia, the following day, Grenon complained about the lengths federal authorities had taken.
“The amount of people who came in was ridiculous,” Grenon said. “There were helicopters over the house, a hazmat truck, buses, a SWAT team, armored vehicles.”
The FDA raided the family’s compound in part because the agency believes MMS, or chlorine dioxide, is dangerous.
There have been more than 16,000 cases of chlorine dioxide poisoning, including approximately 2,500 cases involving children under 12 years old, since 2014, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. That includes a 6-year-old autistic girl who was hospitalized with liver failure in 2017.
The Grenons also have been among the most uncooperative targets of Operation Quack Hack – a U.S. government program aimed at cracking down on anyone found to be marketing false coronavirus cures. Not only have family members openly defied the FDA’s orders to stop distributing MMS to church members, but prosecutors say Grenon has threatened violence against the U.S. government and the judge presiding over their case in Florida’s Southern District.
In his weekly church podcast on April 26, Grenon lashed out against the government: “When Congress does immoral things, passes immoral laws, that’s when you pick up guns, right?” “You want a Waco? Do they want a Waco?” Two weeks later, he turned his attention to Judge Kathleen M. Williams: “You think we’re afraid of some Obama-appointed judge that broke their oath?” “This judge could go to jail.” “You could be taken out, Ms. Williams.”
At least a dozen companies and individuals caught up in Operation Quack Hack have openly criticized the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission. Some have accused the two agencies of a nefarious motive: protecting big pharmaceutical companies from the competition of alternative health care providers.
But no one has been as dismissive of government authority as the Grenons.
Because they run a “non-religious church” they maintain they should be held to a different standard than an ordinary business, and because they distribute Miracle Mineral Solution as a sacrament in return for donations instead of selling it, they insist they are exempt from the laws of interstate commerce.
“We are NOT under your authority in regard to your agencies,” Mark Grenon told the FDA after receiving a warning letter in April. “We DO NOT need your approval for (MMS) or for anything we do in our Church. You have NO authority over us so why would we even consider your Act?”
Instead of hiring an attorney and filing official responses in court, Grenon sent letters directly to Judge Williams saying that distributing MMS around the world is a conviction for which he’s ready to die. He used podcasts and YouTube videos to warn the FDA, the U.S. attorneys prosecuting his case and the judge to be careful how they treat his church, because, he said, the president is watching, the attorney general is watching and the entire country is watching.
“My prayer is that Trump steps in, or Barr – I wrote them both – and says dismiss this case and put everything back the way it was,” Grenon said in a YouTube video interview with investigative journalist and fellow FDA warning letter recipient Maryam Henein.
Grenon, who declined through Henein to speak with USA TODAY, added in the video interview that he was eager to face his accusers in court and would come at them “with the full force of the rule of law.”
“What I want to see,” Grenon concluded, “is that judge in jail, the attorney in jail, and the FDA completely disassembled.”
‘Religious rituals are for other churches’
The story of Miracle Mineral Solution doesn’t begin with the Grenons. It starts with Jim Humble, a retired engineer and former member of the Church of Scientology, who says he stumbled across the first iteration of MMS while prospecting for gold in the jungles of Guyana in 1996.
According to his book “The Miracle Mineral Supplement of the 21st Century,” four members of his camp came down with malaria, and the oxygenated water he whipped together had them back on their feet within 24 hours.
Through trial and error over the next 12 months, Humble refined his potion into chlorine dioxide. By testing it in a dozen African and Latin America countries over the next decade, he found it could cure a whole lot more than malaria.
In fact, Humble said there weren’t a lot of illnesses or ailments that MMS couldn’t cure. From cancer to arthritis, Lyme tick disease to hepatitis, HIV/AIDs, skin rashes and spider bites, Humble said MMS had an ability to attack only germs, bacteria and viruses that harm the body, while leaving friendly bacteria and healthy cells alone.
In a promotional film, Grenon said he learned of the power of MMS a little over 10 years ago when his entire family came down with MRSA, a stubborn staph infection. Grenon was a missionary pilot based in the Dominican Republic at the time. He flew in doctors from the United States to care for the island’s poor.
Despite his access to some of the best doctors and antibiotics, Grenon said nothing worked. So he began searching the internet for a cure and landed on Humble’s original book on MMS.
Grenon invited Humble to come stay with him in the Dominican Republic. Within six months, he said, everyone in his family was clear of MRSA. What’s more, the two men had devised a plan for treating the poor in the Dominican Republic and Haiti and for creating and expanding Genesis II Church, dedicated to healing the sick.
‘I’m not gonna say cure … because I can get in trouble’
“Worshipping God and other religious rituals are for other churches,” Humble wrote in his second book, “The Master Mineral Solution of the Third Millennium.”
Both Grenon and Humble have explained in their writings that structuring their enterprise as a church was important for two reasons: It gave them certain rights and protections under the law as a religious organization and allowed them to dodge the tedious and extremely expensive process of getting MMS approved as a new drug.
“Approval?” Grenon wrote in an April 23 letter to Judge Williams. “A Church sacrament only needs approval from God NOT a federal agency.”
Grenon and Humble opted to expand the church and increase the distribution of MMS through franchising and by holding conferences at Grenon’s compound in the Dominican Republic.
For $1,500, attendees received room, board and 10 days instruction on how to use MMS in a variety of scenarios: mixed with bath water to treat skin conditions, in a foot bath to treat foot fungus, in a spray bottle to treat skin cancer, in misting machines to treat pneumonia or asthma, in liquid or pill form to treat disease, and in enemas to treat constipation.
When they were finished with the course, attendees would receive minister of health certificates, which allowed them to put an ad in the paper and start their own Genesis II Church chapters. They could then charge membership fees and benefit from the distribution of MMS in a two-bottle set, in return for each $25 donation.
Humble said he and his partners trained 178 ministers of health from 49 countries over the first 11 months in the Dominican Republic. Within five years, they had reached 1,800 ministers from 115 countries. Rather than waiting for people to keep showing up at their Caribbean compound, they began to take their show on the road.
By 2020, Grenon said he had held seminars in 20 countries, including two-day events in England, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The Grenons averaged $32,000 a month in revenues from the distribution of MMS between April and December 2019, according to documents seized during the FDA’s raid, a sum that shot up to $123,000 in March as pandemic fear spread.
But expanding the reach of the Genesis II Church was never easy. As soon as the church got off the ground in 2010, it came under heavy fire from governments around the world and the medical establishment, and was deeply scrutinized by the media.
The FDA and similar agencies in the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand issued consumer warnings. Then, after receiving reports of adverse reactions to MMS, including hospitalizations, life-threatening conditions, and death, at least six countries banned the product outright
Doctors told reporters that ingesting the bleach-like substance was akin to drinking poison that could cause major organ failure, and major media outlets regularly highlighted problems caused by the potion.
In 2014, the Melbourne Herald Sun reported that at least 10 people had been poisoned by MMS in Australia. The following year, a BBC reporter in England revealed that parents were using it to treat their autistic children.
“I’m not gonna say cure … because I can get in trouble,” Genesis II representative Leon Edwards, was quoted as saying in the BBC report. “I’d say purge. It can purge autism.”
In 2016, ABC’s 20/20 conducted an undercover report showing that using MMS to treat autism amounted to torture, causing nausea, diarrhea and skin rashes that looked like chemical burns.
Protesters around the world rose up to demand changes in laws to protect people from MMS.
“Like St. Patrick and the snakes, we got rid of it,” said Fiona O’Leary, the mother of three children with autism who has been fighting MMS for seven years. “We have nothing here in Ireland. If there’s even a sniff of the stuff, the HPRA (Ireland’s FDA) would be all over it.”
There’s still plenty to worry about in the rest of the world, O’Leary said, especially in South America. In Bolivia, the Ministry of Health recently approved the use of chlorine dioxide, she said, and in Peru, Columbia and Argentina, thousands of followers are promoting MMS, according to the BBC and other major media organizations.
‘These people are evil geniuses … satanic smart’
Grenon sees all the criticism from his opponents – the medical industry, big media and governments – as evidence of globalist conspiracy of greed, to prevent any erosion of their wealth and power.
“These people are evil geniuses … they’re very smart, satanic smart,” Grenon said in his video interview with Henein. “They’re coming after us because what we do, if it’s made legal, it will wipe out 90% of all the pharmaceuticals.”
Banned from distributing the product as a supplement in many countries, he and his followers have rebranded it as a water purifier. Unable to meet for conferences at hotels, they have set up flash meetings in train stations, which have continued in private homes.
Unable to get positive news from the big media networks, the Grenons started their own weekly podcasts that air over the internet – and reach thousands of listeners.
The U.S. regulatory agencies and the courts have presented a more substantial hurdle.
Ever since Genesis II received a letter in April warning it to stop claiming MMS “has every hope of eradicating COVID-19,” Grenon has made sure the FDA and the FTC know that he has no intention of cooperating.
“We are not going to play games,” Grenon said in one of his podcasts. “We are not entering your evil system.”
“The FDA/FTC are the criminals here by putting a Church Sacrament under a code that doesn’t apply to a Church Sacrament,” he said in another. “DISMISS THIS CASE TODAY AND ALL WILL BE FORGIVEN!”
Grenon’s rage and bravado began to dissipate about a week after the government raided his family’s Florida compound, when his son, Jonathan, suffered an attack of high blood pressure in the Pinellas County Jail.
“The Doctor told his wife a few minutes ago that Jonathan’s blood pressure is at a dangerous level!,” Grenon wrote in an email to Judge Williams. “He also told Jonathan that he might have a heart attack! He might die! His health is in your hands. Please release my sons today. They are being effected physically, mentally and Spiritually.”
Six days later, Grenon sent the judge a letter via email. The fight seemed to be out of him. He’d talked to all his sons and was ready to do anything the government asked.
“I founded this Church to help mankind and together with my sons we have helped many and now it is time to stop,” Grenon said. “If we open another Church it will be just for the preaching and teaching of the Bible as I have been doing for the past 41 yrs. and have nothing to do with MMS, chlorine dioxide and providing those Sacraments.
“We are peaceful people and only want to help others and are only looking for freedom of choice for what goes into our temples, i.e. our bodies,” Grenon continued. “As a father, I ask if at all possible, could my sons be released tomorrow, Monday, July 20th to attend the audio conference Tuesday from home. That would be a blessing to them.”
Jonathan and Jordan Grenon remain jail.
On Aug. 12, Colombian law enforcement officials arrested Mark Grenon and another of his sons, Joseph, in the beach town of Santa Marta on a U.S. warrant for selling MMS as a cure for COVID-19. Colombian prosecutors told CBC News of Canada that the Grenons had been shipping the product to clients in the United States and Africa.
They are awaiting extradition.
In the meantime, the U.S. government has ordered the church to recall and destroy its raw materials and finished products, and to provide refunds to customers on request.
In an audio message from his jail in Bogota posted on Twitter by Henein on Aug. 16, Grenon was back to his old self. He was healthy, he said, and being treated well by the guards.
“I believe we’re going to be out soon,” he said. “I even had a dream that we’re going to be at the White House. We’re going to be proclaiming. It’s going to be legal, and the FDA is going to be taken down, and the Department of Justice is going to be cleaned up, and we’re all in this fight together.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Church leader, sons jailed for defying FDA by touting coronavirus cure