The secluded Texas ranch where followers of imprisoned polygamist Warren Jeffs lived in near isolation was seized by state agents yesterday, nearly six years after FBI agents raided the property and removed 439 children amid child sex abuse allegations. (All of the children were eventually returned. But about a dozen men, including Jeffs and other high-ranking FLDS lieutenants, were arrested on charges of sexual assault or bigamy and later convicted.) The Texas Department of Public Safety said its agents took possession of the Yearning For Zion Ranch near Eldorado. In a statement, DPS said only eight adults were still living on the West Texas property and agreed to leave after meeting with agents.
The state asked a judge to allow the forfeiture, alleging that FLDS leaders financed a $1.1 million purchase of the land in 2003 through money laundering. It also cited sexual assaults committed on the property. Under Texas law, authorities can seize property that was used to commit or facilitate certain criminal conduct. A judge granted the state's request in January. Jeffs is serving life in prison after being convicted in 2011 of sexually assaulting two girls he took as child brides.