Police have arrested a United States citizen and presumed leader of a religious cult in Chihuahua who is wanted for child abuse.
Orson William Black Jr., 56, is also a suspect in the death of three U.S. citizens in Mexico in September.
He and 26 other U.S. citizens — including his four wives — were arrested at a Mennonite colony known as Manitoba, located in the municipality of Cuauhtémoc, by officials from the state Attorney General’s office (FGE), the FBI, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and consular officials.
Authorities raided three houses and two ranches belonging to Black, seizing at least 13 pickup trucks, seven motorcycles, two ATVs and stuffed exotic animals or animal heads, including zebras, buffalos, a bear, a lion and red foxes.
The Manitoba settlement, part of a ranch known as El Negro, was the scene of the September murder of three people aged 15, 19 and 23, two of whom shared Black’s last name.
Black is a suspect in the crime but no arrests have been made. He has been charged in Mexico with entering the country illegally and illegal possession of wildlife species. The others who were arrested have been turned over to immigration officials for possible deportation.
Black has been wanted by the state of Arizona since 2003 when five charges of sexual misconduct toward minors were filed, and is believed to have fled to Mexico with several of his wives and children.
The alleged pedophile is a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, a sect that was founded after the Mormon church officially ended the practice of polygamy in 1890.
According to reports by the newspaper El Diario de Juárez, United States citizens had started moving to the El Negro ranch around the time Black fled. His polygamous sect and community were reportedly set apart from the older Mennonite community that settled in the region in 1922.
By 2006, Black was declared a wanted man by the FBI for child abuse.
While on the lam, Black is said to have received financial support from a number of followers in the United States. The El Negro ranch had three Mennonite-style buildings, and locals have reported that its main economic activity was livestock breeding.