Alleged US cult leader detained in Mexico

Orson William Black Jr., the leader of a polygamist group, is currently under investigation for the murder of three young male Americans
Police operation at the ranch of Orson William Black Jr. in Chihuahua – Photo: AP
07/11/2017
16:00
Newsroom
Chihuahua
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With the help of the FBI, prosecutors of the Mexican state of Chihuahua detained an American polygamist wanted for his alleged involvement in the triple murder of three male youths, one of them a fifteen-year-old teen.

On October 22, Mexican authorities found the bodies of three Americans aged 15, 19, and 23, and launched a murder investigation which culminated last Sunday with the detention of Orson William Black, Jr., 56, following a two-day series of raids on several homes the cult used as “commune”, according to the Mexican prosecutors.

The lack of birth certificates of the victims and the fact that no one claimed the bodies alerted Mexican authorities, who contacted the US consulate to provide more information on the group, according to the Prosecutor's Office of Chihuahua.

It turned out Orson Black had faced charges of sexual misconduct with minors in Hildale, Utah after one of his “wives” pressed charges against him. According to the woman, she became Black's “wife” at age 17 and gave birth to three children who lived together with Black's other concubines and children at a religious commune.

Black, a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – a sect which separated from the main Mormon church – had been in hiding in Mexico since 2002 in an area largely populated by Mennonites who live in the border state of Chihuahua, where him, his four “wives,” and over 20 other American citizens pretended to be a religious community similar to others in the region who also practice polygamy.

At the site of the arrest, authorities also found an unusual collection of stuffed animal heads and frozen animal carcasses.

Black was charged with human smuggling and illegal possession of wildlife, and is currently under investigation for his involvement in the murder of the three youths. He is expected to be extradited to the United States.

The other 25 Americans – men and women – members of his alleged cult were handed over to the National Institute of Immigration (INM) for their possible deportation, as they entered the country illegally.

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