Texas Moves To Seize Polygamous Leader Warren Jeffs' Ranch

Nov 28, 2012
Originally published on November 28, 2012 7:09 pm

The office of the Texas attorney general announced today that it was taking steps to try to seize the ranch of polygamous leader Warren Jeffs.

Reporting from Dallas, NPR's Wade Goodwyn filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"Texas authorities claim the ranch owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was bought with laundered money. The Texas Attorney General alleged that the 1600 acre property was purchased to 'establish a remote outpost where they could insulate themselves from criminal prosecution for sexually assaulting children.'

After a raid by law enforcement in 2008 nearly a dozen FLDS men including leader Warren Jeffs were convicted of criminal charges including sexual assault of a minor. Jeffs is serving a sentence of life in prison. A spokesman for the group said Texas is now punishing the victims by seeking to claim their property."

The ranch is located in Eldorado, Texas. Reuters reports that while Jeffs is in prison, he is said to still be in control of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The wire service adds some background:

"The sect practices polygamy in arranged marriages and has an estimated 10,000 followers in North America. It shares religious roots with the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but the mainstream Mormon church denounced polygamy in 1890 as a condition of Utah's statehood and does not affiliate with the FLDS or any other polygamist sect.

"The state of Utah has taken over the assets of a communal land trust once run by Jeffs, and a federal appeals court ruled earlier this month that the trust should not be turned back to sect leaders."

Update at 7:07 p.m. ET. Documents:

The Salt Lake Tribune has posted the seizure warrant and the YFZ Ranch seizure affidavit. The paper also has a more complete story, if you're looking for more details.

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