For a man ensconced in a Colombian prison, facing federal charges in the United States for conspiracy to commit fraud and criminal contempt, Mark Grenon has been quite busy. In the time he’s been incarcerated, Grenon, the self-proclaimed bishop of a Florida church called Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, has continued promoting what the church calls a sacrament—Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), a dangerous bleaching agent often and wrongly sold as a cure-all for a variety of conditions ranging from autism to COVID. While in jail, Grenon has also appeared on at least three conspiratorial podcasts to claim he’s being persecuted by the government, and he—or someone using an account bearing his name—maintains an active presence on Telegram. He also seems to have been teaming up with a particularly energetic and bizarre anti-vax figure, a former self-styled sports medicine entrepreneur named Christopher Key, who’s recently made news himself for vowing to arrest governors imposing vaccine mandates, saying pharmacists could be executed for administering COVID vaccines under Nuremberg-esque trials he believes will one day occur, and urging his followers to drink their own urine.
MMS is the name that Genesis II members use for chlorine dioxide, a chemical blend that is, in reality, bleach; its use can cause life-threatening complications. Genesis II was founded, and MMS was first promoted, by a man named Jim Humble, who claims to be a billion-year old space god, and who said he discovered the mineral while mining for gold in South America. (Genesis II members also occasionally refer to it as Water Purification Solution; chlorine dioxide tablets can be bought to purify water for camping and to clean fish tanks.)
Genesis II claims that the product is a sacrament it offers to its congregants. On July 8, 2020, the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations raided the church; Grenon and three of his sons—Joseph, Jordan and Jonathan—were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to violate the Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act, and criminal contempt. (Grenon has eight children in total.) By that point, Grenon and Joseph were both in Colombia; they were detained there, and Grenon is being held at La Picota prison in Bogota, Colombia. Their trial has been postponed once, as both men are fighting extradition back to the United States.
The Grenons do not appear to have an attorney; in response to the charges, they filed a motion to dismiss in April of 2021 that is rife with the language and nonsense logic of the sovereign citizen movement, declaring themselves “freemen” and “vessels” not subject to U.S. law. Among other things, the motion read, “No Crimes were committed. Nor did there exist any intent to commit any crime.” It was denied two days later by District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga. In the same ruling, Altonaga also directed, given what she called the “bizarre contents of the Motion,” that the government indicate whether it would be seeking “psychiatric or psychological examinations” of Jonathan and Jordan, the two Grenons in U.S. custody. In court documents arguing that the Grenons should be denied bail, government prosecutors also called the men “a danger to the community,” stating that they’ve defied previous court orders against marketing MMS. “Defendants have openly and vehemently defied the Court, threatening ‘‘’civil disobedience’ against this unjust order!’”, U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan wrote. She added that the Grenons have also written, “The 2nd Amendment is there in case it can’t be done peaceably.”
(Mark Grenon didn’t respond to an email and Telegram messages from Motherboard requesting comment. Officials at the prison where Grenon is being held did not respond to two emails over several months requesting comment. A spokesperson for the Department of Justice’s office in South Florida would not comment on the court case or confirm or deny any continuing investigations into the Grenons or Mark Grenon’s activities while incarcerated in Colombia. They responded, “According to DOJ policy, we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.” The DOJ also wouldn’t confirm that Grenon would be extradited, or a timeline for extradition.)
According to Fiona O’Leary, an Irish activist and advocate for autistic people who often confronts MMS peddlers, she’s been in communication with Mark Grenon over the past year, posing as an interested buyer. (O’Leary provided screenshots and audio of their conversations to Motherboard.) The operator of the website Geoboros, which seeks to identify MMS peddlers, wrote that he also spoke to Grenon by phone in October 2021, and uploaded audio of their call to his site.
According to Grenon’s conversations with O’Leary and the Geoboros site operator, from prison, he’s continuing to provide counsel on how to use MMS to people who reach out to him and offering suggestions about where to purchase it. In one conversation, O’Leary posed as a man with a son who had COVID-19; in response, Grenon told her he was “in prison on a secret phone” and told her to “buy calcium hypochlorite 60-70%” and give her son several drops on a regular basis throughout the day. “MMS2, we call it,” he wrote.
“We have people in Spain that can send,” he added, when told that the supposedly distressed father was in the UK.
In his conversations with O’Leary and the Geoboros operator, Grenon also claimed to have directly treated 75 people while in prison. It’s unclear if he was claiming to have given MMS to other incarcerated people at La Picota. The Geoboros site operator was left with the impression that Grenon was able to receive MMS in prison, though, writing on his site, “In terms of mail and contraband, Mark Grenon can easily bring in chlorine dioxide and use it on the patients in prison.”
While he’s been incarcerated, Grenon has also conducted phone interviews with several fringe podcasters, including two people who are well-known in the conspiracy world: Mike Adams, the self-proclaimed “Health Ranger,” who runs a site called Natural News, and Kerry Cassidy of Project Camelot; Cassidy positions herself as a journalist and frequently interviews people she deems “whistleblowers.” (The interviews are colorful, as are the other topics covered on Project Camelot, including chemtrails and recovery from their effects, an ongoing look at the alleged secret space war happening among the world’s major powers, and a recent video speculating about whether Washington may be “under alien control” at the moment.) Speaking to Adams, Grenon declared that he’s a political prisoner, or a “political prisoner under the medical police state,” as Adams deemed him. These publicity efforts have a material aim as well: To date, a fundraiser for the family on the self-described Christian fundraising site GiveSendGo has raised nearly $35,000.
Meanwhile, Grenon’s relationship with Christopher Key, the former sports medicine personality turned anti-vax activist, also seems to be growing. Key has dubbed himself the “Vaccine Police,” the name he also uses for his Telegram group. (Key also drives a car with an enormous Vaccine Police wrapper emblazoned across the entire vehicle. In a very distinct echo of the nonsense logic used by sovereign citizens, he recently told the Daily Beast he doesn’t need a driver’s license, saying his car is a “wagon”: “You only drive if you are committing commerce.” Claiming a driver’s license or other government-issued documents aren’t necessary is a common sovereign citizen tactic. Key told Motherboard he is not a sovereign citizen.)
For several months, Key has been posting regularly about the Grenons on his Telegram page, pledging to protest in support of their release, and told Motherboard he held a protest on their behalf in Miami just before Christmas. Key seems to view the Grenons as part of his broader campaign against COVID vaccines, falsely claiming that MMS is a cure for COVID and that the Grenons’ trial will prove fraud by the FDA.
“What is the FDA afraid of?” Key wrote recently on Telegram. “It is quite clear what they are afraid of. The truth shall make Mark Grenon and his 3 Sons free as Mark will destroy the FDA with facts… The truth will put the FDA into the pit of hell for crimes against humanity. Many friends will follow into the bottomless pit.”
“This is not a vaccine, sweetheart,” he told Motherboard, referring to COVID vaccines. “It’s a bioweapon.” (COVID vaccines are not bioweapons).
Key acknowledged that he’s brought MMS to a number of recent events where he’s appeared, but says he doesn’t sell it, but rather gives it away for free.
“Anybody that wanted chlorine dioxide would get it,” he told Motherboard. “Not just chlorine dioxide, but my pain chips, my energy chips, my shirts.” Anything he brings to events, he said, “is free to anybody that wants it. A donation has nothing to do with receiving product. You don’t have to do one to get another. There are many people who take my chlorine dioxide and give me nothing.” Donations, he said, either go to a “medicine woman” he’s working with or, when given directly to him, go towards “putting up billboards in all 50 states” and “to fund those that are doing God’s work and helping God’s people.”
Peddling dubious products is a long-term interest for Key: In 2013, Sports With Alternative to Steroids, or SWATS, an Alabama sports medicine company co-owned by Key, was accused of “deceptive trade practices” by Alabama attorney general Luther Strange, who said that Key and his co-owner were selling a number of unproven products, including something called a "Cooling Concussion Cap" that claimed to reduce inflammation from concussions, “deer antler spray” meant to act as a performance enhancing supplement, and “pain management chips” meant to be worn during game play.
Some of the products Key referred to when speaking to Motherboard are the same ones that Strange specifically cited in his complaint; of the supposed “pain chips,” Strange wrote in 2013, “like SWATS other products, the chips are long on claims and short on science…..Like the concussion cap and the sprays and tabs, the various chip products are marketed and sold under specific panacean-like promises that imply the science is there and the only variable on the results is your money.” The Attorney General’s office ordered SWATS to cease all business in Alabama in November of 2013.
These days, Key also has a “Shop” section on his website, where he links to a number of products, including chlorine dioxide. Some of the products are sold through his own company, Keys2Life, while others, including deer antler spray and laetrile, a particularly infamous faux drug that’s been promoted since the 1970s as a cure for cancer, he links to other businesses to which he has no apparent connection. In the case of chlorine dioxide, he links to a website called The Secret Mineral that he does not seem to be tied to. The Geoboros site operator told Motherboard that as far as he’s aware, Key began promoting MMS starting last year. He recently held a “Vaccine Police” informational event in Acadiana, Louisiana; a flier for the event posted to Telegram claimed that he would hand out “CD,” meaning chlorine dioxide, at the event.
According to photos that Key posted on Telegram, screenshotted by O’Leary and Geoboros, Key also recently posed in front of a pallet of MMS bottles with the Genesis II logo clearly displayed on the side. Grenon was vague when O’Leary asked if he knew that Key was evidently distributing his products: “I know him well!” he wrote. “I believe he is giving them away.”
Key told Motherboard that he has indeed been giving away bottles of MMS with the Genesis II logo on them, but that the label had recently been changed after a request from Grenon.
“We had a label,” he explained, sort of. “We marked off the logo because we were told by Mark himself that that could possibly get him in trouble.” He’d gotten the product, he said, “from another friend of Mark’s.” Grenon, he said, had directed their mutual friend “to black out the label. Mark asked us not to use his label anymore.” Instead, they’d made a new one that reads “God’s Detox,” he said.
I asked if any donations given to Key were being used to fund the Grenons’ legal efforts. Key paused.
“I plead the fifth on that one,” he responded, after a beat.
Multiple anti-MMS groups have been working to stop Grenon, to little long-term effect. In September, Geoboros reported, an anti-MMS group based in Latin America called “Dioxido de Cloro – Fraude asesino” (Chlorine Dioxide: Killer Fraud) claimed that they’d reported Grenon’s Telegram activities to the prison where he’s being held and his phone was taken. “We celebrate very happily,” the group wrote in Spanish.
But Grenon clearly regained his phone rather quickly (or else, someone using an account bearing his name has taken over his communications). The Telegram profile bearing Grenon’s name virtually always reads “recently active.” Just days ago, Key wrote on Telegram yet again about his plan to arrest Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana. Grenon cheered him on in the comments, responding, “Keep fighting!”
The support is mutual; Key told Motherboard he believes Grenon’s right to a speedy trial is being ignored. “You may not like chlorine dioxide but this man has a right to due process,” he said. The Grenons’ trial is currently set for September of 2022.