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Polygamist Church Leader Arrested in Nevada

The leader of the nation's largest and most controversial polygamist group is now in police custody in Las Vegas. Warren Jeffs had been on the FBI's list of 10 most-wanted fugitives, charged with facilitating polygamous marriages involving under-age girls.

Jeffs, who leads the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has more than 6,000 followers, most of whom believe their leader is a prophet of God. But Jeffs faces charges in Arizona and Utah.

Detained outside of Las Vegas Monday night, Jeffs was determined to avoid capture, judging by the list of items found in the red Cadillac Escalade he was driving.


George Tagliotti of the Nevada Highway Patrol says that the car contained "everything from a large number of cellular telephones, laptop computers, three wigs" to "in excess of $50,000 in cash."

Also found were sunglasses, portable radios, police scanners and unopened envelopes believed to contain cash contributions from his followers.

Jeffs had been the subject of an episode of the TV show America's Most Wanted. The reward for his capture had reached $100,000.

But it was a routine traffic stop, triggered by a temporary license tag, that transformed Jeffs from fugitive to defendant.

Jeffs is said to promote a brand of polygamy that involves underage girls -- some as young as 13, according to former members of his group. They are allegedly assigned to men decades older, who may already have other wives.


Jeffs is accused in Utah of rape as an accomplice, for facilitating under-aged marriages. He faces a similar charge in Arizona, which is also prosecuting eight of his followers.

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