(Phoenix, Ariz. - Aug. 29, 2006) Attorney General Terry Goddard today applauded the arrest of Warren Jeffs, leader of the nation's largest polygamist section and one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted fugitives.
Jeffs, 50, was arrested late Monday on Interstate 15 north of Las Vegas by a Nevada Highway Patrol officer in what began as a routine traffic stop. The officer stopped the 2007 Cadillac Escalade Jeffs was riding in because he could not read the vehicle's temporary license plate.
"This is a terrific day for Arizona and the people of Colorado City," Goddard said. "The law enforcement net around Jeffs had been steadily tightened, and his capture is a great credit to Nevada Highway Patrol and the FBI.
"The arrest is a major step toward ending Jeffs' tyrannical rule in Colorado City and in the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS)," Goddard added. "He showed flagrant disregard for subpoenas and arrest warrants and told his followers the law didn't apply to him. His arrest should make it clear to everyone that Jeffs, like all the rest of us, is subject to the rule of law."
Goddard called Jeffs' apprehension an important milestone in the evolution of Colorado City.
"We have investigated and reorganized the school district, reformed the United Effort Trust (which owns most of the property in Colorado City), thrown out FLDS police officers who did not enforce the law, and established help lines and shelters for women and children who were crime victims," Goddard said. "I hope that many FLDS members who were intimidated by Jeffs and prevented from speaking out will now feel they can safely testify against him and other leaders of the sect."
Jeffs was charged by the Mohave County Attorney with sexual conduct with a minor, conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Mohave County officials are expected to begin extradition proceedings to bring Jeffs to trial. He faces additional charges in Utah where he is accused of two felony counts of rape as an accomplice for allegedly arranging the marriage of a teenage girl to an older man.
The Arizona and Utah Attorney General Offices posted a $10,000 reward 13 months ago for information leading to Jeffs' capture. The FBI subsequently increased the reward to $100,000 three months ago when it added Jeffs to its Ten Most Wanted List.