9/20/08 – CBS: Federal, State Agents Raid Tony Alamo’s Compound In Sex Investigation

CBS News
September 20, 2008

Evangelist Complex Raided For Child Porn
FBI, State Police Planned To Remove Several Children From Compound, Run By Previously Accused Child Abuser

(CBS/AP) FBI agents and state police raided an evangelists’ headquarters Saturday as part of a child pornography investigation and said they planned to remove several children from the complex, run by a man previously accused of child abuse.

The raid at the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries south of Texarkana started an hour before sunset. Armed guards regularly patrol the ministry headquarters, but there was apparently no resistance as agents moved in.

“I have not heard of any shots fired,” state police spokesman Bill Sadler said.

U.S. Attorney Bob Balfe said before the raid that he expected an arrest warrant would be issued later for Alamo.

Alamo wasn’t on site and is at an undisclosed location in Santa Clarita, California, reports CBS affiliate KTHV-TV in Little Rock.

In a phone interview with KTHV, Alamo refuted the allegations and claimed the government and media were attempting to bring an end to his ministry.

Shortly after the raid began, a sport-utility vehicle hauling a trailer backed up to the ministry building’s front door. FBI vehicles blocked off a dead-end road.

A Fouke School District bus also arrived and pulled up near 12 unmarked vans, SUVs and sedans parked alongside the low-slung ministry headquarters along U.S. 71 just inside the city limits of tiny Fouke.

Sadler said a search would be conducted at the compound headquarters and also at Alamo’s home nearby.

A helicopter circled overhead, and onlookers stopped along the two-lane highway to watch the raid.

Alamo’s church is in a single-story building that looks like a strip mall. A white cross stands atop the structure, with a small steeple to the right side.

Alamo was once accused in California of directing the beating of a church member’s 11-year-old son. In 1994, he was sentenced to six years in prison on tax evasion charges filed in Memphis, Tennessee.

The judge in the tax case ordered him held pending sentencing after prosecutors argued that the evangelist was a flight risk and a polygamist who preyed on married women and girls in his congregation. U.S. District Judge Jon McCalla said he was concerned over “the very great control Mr. Alamo has over a number of people.”

In: 2008 - (Trial year)

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