Texas attempting to seize YFZ Ranch in Warren Jeffs probe

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by MARJORIE OWENS

WFAA & Associated Press

Posted on November 28, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 28 at 2:35 PM

DALLAS - The State of Texas has announced plans to seize a West Texas ranch where they allege Warren Jeffs and other sect members sexually assaulted children, read a statement released Wednesday morning by the Texas Attorney General's Office.

Jeffs was convicted last year of sexually assaulting two of his underage brides. Prosecutors used DNA evidence to show he fathered a child with a 15-year-old girl prosecutors say he took as one of his spiritual wives. Jeffs is serving life in prison in Texas but has continued to try and continue to lead his church while serving his sentence.

The Texas Attorney General's Office filed a search and seizure warrant Wednesday for the Yearning for Zion Ranch, a 1,600-acre property located in Eldorado, the statement read.

The affidavit claims Jeffs ordered the purchase of the ranch with proceeds from illegal money laundering. Prosecutors also claim it became the site of multiple sexual assaults against children at the hands of Jeffs and other Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints members.

Members also allegedly housed Jeffs on the ranch while he was listed as one of the FBI's "Top 10 Most Wanted."

Jerry Strickland, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said the court filings do not mean FLDS members still living at the Yearning for Zion Ranch must immediately leave.

He said the warrant instead begins the final chapter in the state's five-year prosecution against sect's indicted leaders and followers.

"This is simply the next step," Strickland said.

In the four years since Texas authorities swarmed the ranch, state prosecutors have spent more than $4.5 million racking up swift convictions against him and 10 loyal followers on child sex and bigamy charges, according to state records.

Eldorado is located about 200 miles west of San Antonio.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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