With polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs in custody, Utah and Arizona officials say they won’t let up on fighting crime within polygamous communities, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Other states are just getting going. Last week, Nevada Attorney General George Chanos appointed an investigator to look into his state’s growing polygamous population. The investigator will follow the example set in Utah and Arizona by focusing on such crimes as underage marriages and child labor violations. Jeffs was wanted on sex-crime charges in Utah and Arizona over arranged underage marriages.
Utah and Arizona authorities seemed to send two messages: Investigations into criminal activity will continue, but they have no plans to target consenting adults engaged in the religious practice of polygamy or dictate the shape of religious belief. Said Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff: “At no time have I ever suggested that I am trying to dictate what people’s religious beliefs are. This is about criminal enterprises that are wrapped up in a religious ribbon.” In the three years since Jeffs, 50, has been in hiding, his followers have fanned out across the U.S., setting up notable presences in Nevada, South Dakota, Idaho, Colorado, Texas, and Mexico.