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The AZ Polygamy Town Airport Built With Fed $$$Mns

Built W/ Fed Millions: What's Up At AZ Polyg Town Airport?

By Suzan Mazur

Colorado City Airport AZ - Click For Source Image

The first shock is the realization that an airport costing Americans $3 million exists in the polygamist-owned Arizona wastelands of Colorado City. It sits "Spielberg-like" north of the Grand Canyon, east of the Colorado River and serves a handful of planes. How and why it materialized is the second shock. But most disturbing is what a town of outlaw cultists might be using an isolated airstrip for under the radar.

By the way, Arizona forbids polygamy - had to as a condition to US statehood. And polygamy has been illegal in the US for over 100 years (Edmunds Tucker Act). Polygamy is also recognized by 182 countries - including the US - as a human rights violation under the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

However, Arizona's legislature - traditionally Republican - has never enacted a criminal penalty regarding polygamy. So Article XX of the Arizona Constitution is virtually meaningless: "Polygamous or plural marriages, or polygamous co-habitation, are forever prohibited within the State." Moreover, the state's bigamy statute does not include co-habitation and thus gives free rein to the practice of plural marriage.

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Polygamy enforcement in Arizona therefore falls to the FBI to investigate.

Instead, the victimization continues. And continues to be state and federally funded - despite front page exposes in the media for much of the last decade establishing that Colorado City residents, who are members of the Mormon polygamist church called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, have been brainwashed by generations of sexual predators posing as prophets and priests to believe that plural marriage is the way to heaven. The latter never revealing heaven was their own sick fantasy.

The racket has been kept going through infiltration of the FBI and CIA by members of the main Mormon church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which still includes polygamy in its scriptures (D&C 132). As John Dougherty of Phoenix New Times has noted: "The only difference between the FLDS and the LDS is that the FLDS practices what the LDS preaches."

LDS experts trained in surveillance technology have wormed their way into America's intel agencies, even as the FBI complains to the Senate Judiciary Committee which oversees it that the bureau's "shortcomings" are a result of computer problems.

In fact, up until about a year ago, the Chief Information Officer of the FBI was a man who had served as Chief Information Officer of the LDS church for over a decade -- Darwin John.

FBI CIO Darwin John - Formerly CIO LDS Church - Image Source

Then there's FBI Director Robert Mueller, who first ingratiated himself with the "established order" by leading Bush I's bungled DOJ investigation of BCCI, the criminal bank with ties to international intelligence, in which essential witnesses and CIA records remained elusive and key players beat the rap. Mueller thus became the "ideal choice" for Bush II's FBI chief.

FBI Director Robert Mueller Image Source

The FBI's 10 most wanted status for FLDS polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs is yet another smoke screen with intelligent sources advising that the FBI has an agent and an analyst on the case with the Jeffs chase largely happening in the media.

Others providing a safety net to the polygamy criminal enterprise include: unsavory banking interests, lawyers like Rodney Parker who previously served in Bush I's US Deputy Attorney General's office and now as registered agent for the FLDS corporations, and Republican politicians like US Senators Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett - whose families endured polygamy -- John McCain, John Kyl and others. [Scoop: Suzan Mazur: Most Wanted In Polygamy Coverup]

No -- federal, state and local money was not thrown to the Colorado City Municipal Airport to bring tourism to the region or because the FLDS polygamists were looking like the "chosen ones" for an extraterrestrial visitation. More feasible is that the remoteness of the airport provides perfect cover for sensitive business traffic along the lines of drugs-for-weapons swaps like we saw in Mena, Arkansas. As Arizona's "1992 Airport of the Year," the Colorado City airstrip is also just minutes away from Las Vegas, presenting serious money laundering options.

Lacking even bus service to the nearest town 20 minutes away by road, Colorado City is now only an hour or so by air from the historic Mexican polygamy colonies of Colonia Juarez and Colonia Dublan in the drug infested state of Chihuahua and less than two hours from British Columbia's Bountiful cult -- raising red flags about human trafficking as well as drug trafficking.

Whatever the reasons, $3 million in federal, state and local grants were tossed to Colorado City polygamists to build an airport - those reasons are now an international political issue. DOJ/FBI failure to move in on US polygamy must be addressed in an open session by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and soon, or it surely will be taken up in a citizen-organized "truth and reconciliation commission" televised worldwide -- blowing the lid off a government criminal conspiracy.

The town of Colorado City has also received $1.8 million in HUD money to pave streets and spruce up the neighborhood.

Twin Towns Homes -- Suzan Mazur Archives, October 2000

How did Colorado City get the grants? According to Twin Towns historian Ben Bistline, author of The Polygamists: A History of Colorado City, Arizona, the town was incorporated in 1985 by the Mohave County Board of Supervisors. And at that point it automatically became eligible for government grants!

Arizona officials looking the other away were US Senator Barry Goldwater (Rep) , Governor Bruce Babbitt and John McCain, then US Congressman (Rep) . But it was the Mohave County Board of Supervisors that did the dirty deed and actually incorporated the polygamy town.

In an April 2001 conversation with Colorado City Municipal Airport's manager LaDell Bistline, I got the the money breakdown for the facility. According to Bistline the split was 91% federal, 4.5% state and 4.5% local. I tried to report the story on Fox Televison's Bill O'Reilly show in April 2001, but O'Reilly pulled the segment from broadcast.

Bistline told me at the time that the airport had been a dirt strip since the 1960s and that the town developed a $50,000 R&D airport master plan. In 1987, following the incorporation and presentation of the master plan, Colorado City received a $1 million federal grant to begin building the airport. Another $1 million federal grant followed in 1990. In 1992 it received $800,000 to pave the runways. And in 1994, $150,000-$200,000 for water systems. In 1995 they received $200,000 for a terminal building. As Bistline and I spoke, $150,000 more was pending.

LaDell Bistline said the books for the airport were being kept in Colorado City by Kevin Barlow. When I questioned Kevin Barlow at the Colorado City municipal office about why an airport when the town didn't have a bus line, he said curiously, "I never thought for a need for a bus line. A person's got to push for a bus line."

Colorado City Revenues page from Twin Towns newspaper.

In "Most Wanted In Polygamy Coverup," I mentioned that Salt LakeTribune reporter, Robert Gehrke, then with the Associated Press, filed an FOIA request for the FBI file of former FLDS prophet Rulon Jeffs -- and that there was none.

I also reported that Jay Beswick, a dedicated child advocate, for years based near the Utah-Arizona polygamy strip in Hurricane, confronted the FBI in southern Utah on numerous violations involving the FLDS, including sheltering a methamphetamine lab.

Anti-Polygamy Activist Jay Beswick

St. George FBI Special Agent Jeff Goins emailed Beswick indicating there wasn't enough money involved for the FBI to pursue. In other words, the bottom line for the bureau is profit. Again here's what Goins had to say to Beswick in his June 29, 2004 email:

"As a general rule the FBI does not get involved in street level and small time drug cases. The FBI works with DEA, US Customs, and other federal, state, and local agencies in Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program. OCDETF cases involve tons of marijuana, or 25 plus pounds of cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine and a large importation/manufacturing/distribution network."

Goins then blew Beswick off saying the office would "no longer accept e-mails" from him. But Beswick is hardly alone in his drug suspicions about Colorado City. There have been many accounts by residents and former residents about drugs on the Utah-Arizona strip.

Here's an email from a former Colorado City resident, a son of one of the late "prophets", regarding strange activities at the airport:

"From what I've heard from Colorado City family and other residents about the airport, and there were many witnesses to some of the events - some speak of low flying bombers dropping things, others talk of them landing.

About the same time the airport was built, there were rumors of the state deploying 17 police/rangers in the area. I've heard accounts of people out exploring in the nearby desert when they are suddenly stopped by military personal and told to leave.

We have believed for years the military has several secret sites out there. So the bombers are probably more related to the military than to drug dealers. But still, we were all suddenly confused about why the government would put that huge airport there.

When it was built [plans began in 1987], I think there were a maximum of 10 very small airplanes on the tarmac. None of us ever believed it was actually for us.

I mean, the government was investigating the community for fraud; you think they somehow slipped and built an airport for us?

I know that the military uses the area for different types of testing. I saw what I believe was a B52 bomber flying THRU the canyons. Not over, but THRU. I looked up and saw the tail of a huge plane floating above the mountain. When the aircraft appeared from behind the mountain, it wasn't more than a 100ft above the ground.

If you are familiar with Colorado City, you should know where Maxwell Park is, or at least that's what it used be called. The bomber was coming down out of Water Canyon, a very narrow pass.

When I first saw it, I thought "they really aren't going to bomb our town are they?" I was with my senior class, playing volley ball. We all watched it approach, thinking, "Oh my God, they've decided to get rid of us!"

When the plane reached the end of the canyon and entered the town, the Earth began to shake. Apparently the pilot didn't expect a town to be there, or he/she was just messing with us.

When it came down from the canyon, it was completely silent. You couldn't hear a thing, even though the aircraft was less then a 1/2 mile away. When it hit the edge of town, it opened its engines full blast, arched over the east mountain, then disappeared. For a minute, I thought the world was coming to an end.

But when the airport construction began, we were all shocked at the size. We were told the government built it as an emergency landing strip in case big aircraft needed a spot to land, which didn't make sense to me since St. George airport is minutes away, as the crow flies.

We all believed the airport was for something else. So when the bombers began to come in, we weren't sure if they were military or something else. But we realized whoever it was, knew how to fly under radar.

If it was legit government ops, why the need to fly under radar, and come in at night? The bomber I saw in the canyon was in broad daylight, but all other sightings of them at the airport were late evening or most commonly 2am.

My sister lives in Centennial Park, on the southwest border, on a hill top, perhaps a mile from the airport. While I haven't spoken to her much in recent years, the few times I have, she's told me of about strange events involving the airport.

One was seeing a bomber actually drop a large package without landing. Another was waking up at 2am and seeing what looked like a sea of police cars, lights flashing, surrounding a bomber on the runway. Nothing about it ever in the news."

* * * * *

I decided to ask Buster Johnson for his perspective on the Colorado City airport. Johnson was Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff in the 1980s, assigned to narcotics, and is now a resident of Mohave County, Arizona -- which includes the polygamist town of Colorado City. Johnson has served on the Mohave County Board of Supervisors for the past nine years - the same board that in 1985 allowed Colorado City to incorporate. Johnson recently had this to say:

Former Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff Buster Johnson Image Source


Suzan Mazur: Mohave County is home to thousands of polygamists in Colorado City on the border of Utah. Are most residents members of the polygamist FLDS church?

Buster Johnson: All residents are members of the FLDS church.

Suzan Mazur: Can you briefly describe Arizona's position on polygamy?

Buster Johnson: It really has no statute against polygamy that's enforceable. It has a law against bigamy but that doesn't pertain to the FLDS church or the polygamists because they're only married one time. The only thing that we can really go after [under existing legislation] is when they're married in a formal setting - in a church or through a justice of the peace. That way we can prosecute. But we have no control over the celestial marriages that they have.

Suzan Mazur: Unlike Utah which now has a statute that includes co-habitation.

Buster Johnson: Yes.

Suzan Mazur: Do you know if Arizona has any plans to update the bigamy statute?

Buster Johnson: There's nobody championing that cause in the legislature right now.

Suzan Mazur: And there's also no one who would address criminalizing polygamy?

Buster Johnson: We have no one that's championing those causes anymore.

Suzan Mazur: Is the legislature in Arizona like Utah's where it's very dominated by the Republican party?

Buster Johnson: Yes. At this point we're very heavily Republican.

Suzan Mazur: Now in 1985, according to Twin City historian Ben Bistline, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors enabled the town of Colorado City to incorporate. And at that point the town became eligible for government grants. Its that right?

Buster Johnson: Yes, it is.

Suzan Mazur: This was at a time when Barry Goldwater was US Senator, Bruce Babbitt was Governor and John McCain was a US Congressman from Arizona. Did any of those people have to sign off on the incorporation?

Buster Johnson: That I'm not sure about, but I don't believe so. It came before the then-seated Board of Supervisors. We had five members at the time and it passed by a 4 to 1 vote.

Suzan Mazur: Are any of those Mohave board members people of prominence now?

Buster Johnson: Supervisor Rose went on to do something, but I'd have to try to find out. He was the youngest guy elected supervisor at the time and went on from there.

Suzan Mazur: What happened next is that Colorado City applied for a grant to build an airport in the canyonlands and it didn't even have bus service into the nearest town. But it applied for a grant for this airport and did indeed receive $3 million in federal money - 91% of the grant was federal, 4.5% was state and 4.5% local. It also got a HUD grant of $1.8 million to spruce up the neighborhood. What's your response to this?

Buster Johnson: Obviously, I wasn't around when they were doing that. But you have to question the reasons behind the town building an airport, the sincerity. I mean you have an area that is so sparsely populated, which had locked itself away from civilization with no public means of transportation and with one road in and out of Colorado City so the people living there could be controlled as well as the people who come in and out. Why would an airport be built when there weren't even any planes in that area?

Suzan Mazur: Yes. Why not put a bus line in to the nearest town for starters?

Buster Johnson: And these people aren't allowed to be travelling anyway. You wouldn't see kids get on the bus to go to town by themselves. When they travel, they have chaperones - they go as a group. The average person would take advantage of a bus system, where a group like this would not.

Suzan Mazur: Then Arizona in 1992 declared the airport "Airport of the Year". And when I spoke to LaDell Bistline, the Colorado City airport manager in 2001, he told me there were only about seven planes kept there, including then-FLDS prophet Rulon Jeffs' leased jet. What do you suppose the purpose of the Colorado City airport is?

Buster Johnson: When I was first elected to the Mohave County Board of Supervisors in 1996 and before I took office, the people who'd been elected, we all took a plane ride up to Colorado City because I hadn't been there before. I'm not sure if the others had or not. And we landed at the airport. And the airport was locked in. You couldn't get in or out without calling somebody at the municipal offices to come and let you in or let you out.

So it wasn't like open to the public. And I saw the plaque that said "Airport of the Year" and I wondered why because there weren't any airplanes sitting on the tarmac or hangars for planes to be sitting in.

And coming from a law enforcement background, I thought - here's a remote airstrip sitting in the middle of nowhere - drug running came immediately to mind.

Suzan Mazur: What is your background in law enforcement?

Buster Johnson: Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff. I worked dope. I retired.

Suzan Mazur: Do you know Mike Ruppert? He was a Los Angeles narcotics detective in the 1990s who later took on CIA director John Deutch at a public meeting over the CIA flooding South Central Los Angeles with crack cocaine.

Buster Johnson: Made him popular I'm sure. I retired in 1983. But the name sounds familiar.

Suzan Mazur: The feeling is then that the Colorado City airport may be a kind of Mena, Arkansas, a transit point for drugs, weapons, women, cash, etc, particularly because it's situated so close to Las Vegas and an hour or so from the drug infested state of Chihuahua - home to the Mexico's historic polygamy colonies of Colonia Juarez and Colonia Dublan?

Buster Johnson: It's also in close proximity to the Canadian border. So if you were flying in, you'd have enough fuel to make it down to an airstrip that's "unregulated".

Suzan Mazur: Has anyone you're aware of actually chronicled events at the airport? Has anyone actually gone there and done a stake out? Are there accounts of any of this activity?

Buster Johnson: Reports came to me when I first started looking into this regarding the airport and regarding drugs and other things that possibly could be coming in. It isn't until recently that some eyes were on it. Up until the last few years, you could not even enter the town of Colorado City without being followed by the police.

Suzan Mazur: I experienced that myself.

Buster Johnson: And then you were escorted out.

Suzan Mazur: Right.

Buster Johnson: Let alone the airport. And people, some of the women I talked to and some of the boys would tell me planes at the airport would land, products would be unloaded and planes would take off in very short order. Because it's such a closed community, they obviously weren't allowed to talk to anybody on the outside, so you didn't question anything. Plus, the majority of the people are not streetwise. They're raised in a society that's not familiar with drugs, so they wouldn't know what would be unloading or what wouldn't be unloading, if it was legal or illegal.

At the same time, we had numerous reports of drug labs in the Colorado City area. And at that time there wasn't so much worry about those people using drugs. They were more into the money part of it. Where they facilitate it and make a profit from the drugs.

Suzan Mazur: What year are you talking about?

Buster Johnson: Well it was happening prior to, but I became especially aware of it beginning in 1996 when I first got elected to the Mohave Board.

Suzan Mazur: So the airport's closed off at night and no one can just walk in.

Buster Johnson: No. It's chain-linked fenced-in.

Suzan Mazur: But I thought it was a "municipal" airport - a sort of public place.

Buster Johnson: Even when we flew in as elected officials in 1996, as I mentioned earlier, we had to call somebody to come and unlock the gates to let us out.

Suzan Mazur: Viewing it in a positive light for a moment, what do you think government officials had in mind when they arranged the grants for the airport? Were they somehow trying to break the isolation, bring diverse traffic to the area in hopes of changing the demographics of the neighborhood?

Buster Johnson: My thoughts first time I saw it was that it had been built by the prophet for his private use. And the reason I thought this was there were no other planes except for the plane the prophet had. There was no reason to fly into Colorado City because there are no services there.

There are no hunting trips. Or any kind of commercial ventures. The FLDS call it "bleeding the beast", which means anything outside their organization is free to steal from and is considered a good thing to do. So, they feel if they can get millions of dollars to build an airport - more power to them.

Suzan Mazur: Isn't anybody in government looking into where the money's going?

Buster Johnson: You would hope so. But obviously not.

Suzan Mazur: They also got a HUD grant. There are all those fancy homes there. I took some photos of them.

Buster Johnson: The HUD grants come from - you have to qualify financially from the amount of money your family makes to get a lot of these loans. And the people there basically show that they have no money even though the Church we can document having $400 million.

But the people have no money. So when you start looking at a community, a lot of people - they haven't raised the HUD standards in a long time. So it's harder and harder to get people to qualify, even though they're living under poverty. These people in the twin towns show no income. Numerous children to support. So they qualify. So they just give them the money.

A lot of the money if you don't use it goes back to the federal government. So the states don't care where it goes.

Suzan Mazur: Do you lament the lack of action on the part of the FBI in dealing with the problem on the Utah-Arizona border? I mean they're going after one guy. And I assume largely for the assets he's got.

Buster Johnson: The FBI has been contacted over the years time and time again with allegations about the FLDS and complaints of what we believe has been going on in Colorado City, and they basically refuse to do anything. Anytime you ask them or state agencies a question, they'll say: "If you bring me this information and you can get the witnesses, then we'll do something."

Well I thought that was their job. I thought if complaints came forward and you knew about this, then it was the FBI's responsibility to say: "We're going in and look at this and clean it up once and for all. We have something or we don't have." It's not like it was just one person making this complaint.

Suzan Mazur: Particularly in the case of Arizona, which doesn't have a criminal penalty for polygamy - it would seem that it would then fall to the federal government to deal with the problem.

Buster Johnson: Especially because of the relationship with Bountiful in BC. We have human trafficking across the border, undocumented people going across the border so that makes it now a federal offense.

Suzan Mazur: I also understand the Senate Judiciary Committee which oversees the DOJ and FBI is having no luck in dealing with them. Not only on this issue but on every other issue. So we have a shut down of Justice. What's going on?

Buster Johnson: And it comes from LDS leadership in the Justice Department and FBI. Obviously, this is not something they want to take action on. Even now that they've put Warren Jeffs on the 10 most wanted list. Does he deserve to be there with so many murderers out there? I'd like to see attention brought to the Colorado City issue. But you can remove Warren Jeffs tomorrow and the issue's still going to remain. They'll just pick another prophet.

To me, the FBI is grandstanding by saying, "Yes, we're looking for this guy, and yes, 10 years ago or 12 years ago he may or may not have molested an eight-year old boy. And he may or may not be performing these illegal marriages."

Does that qualify him for the top 10 when we have murderers and other people? I don't think so. I think there are other people who qualify for that top 10 list much more.

Suzan Mazur: Now on the state level, the Attorney General on the Utah side has said that he just doesn't have the resources to deal with the problem. Is this a similar argument on the Arizona side? Terry Goddard's office, the AG there. I mean even though there was recently a mini-raid in Colorado City, it was about an underage problem and not polygamy.

Buster Johnson: Terry Goddard really hasn't come out and said that in Arizona as much as Mark Shurtleff has in Utah.

Suzan Mazur: The resources Shurtleff's referring to are funds to hire people to sort things out . . .

Buster Johnson: Incarceration. Prosecution, etc. I hate to say it, but government's not in the business to make money. When you look at the billions of dollars we send overseas and the small amount of money that it would cost to deal with this -- the federal government should come in and do the investigation. And if we have to place people in homes, children in homes - government should be paying for it.

Suzan Mazur: This could be sorted out with assistance from the private sector. There are a lot of very wealthy businessmen close to the Mormon community, for instance Bill Marriott. And the people who founded Carlyle Group who came from the Marriott organization. Investment banker/Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has deep pockets. Then you have, of course, the LDS church. All could be assisting -- if it were a matter of money.

Buster Johnson: The way I look at it is, government has allowed this to grow to the proportion it has. They're responsible. Law enforcement is responsible and could be indicted as co-conspirator. Like you say, government allowed the Colorado City polygamists to be incorporated.

That's tantamount to arming the Mafia who are say, "Hey we have our own town. We want to be legitimized."

And government saying, "We're legitimizing your town. Now you can get federal grants. And have your own police force and have access to anything that the City of New York has."

Suzan Mazur: The atrocities have been going on for a hundred years on the Utah-Arizona border. There's a lot to account for.

Buster Johnson: And because of these incestuous relationships, producing deformities and that sort of thing, the lifestyle of raping young daughters, raping young boys, brutalizing women and the brutalizing of women among women - I think that these people basically are so hard core that they cannot be allowed back into normal society. They need to be allowed to die out completely.

You can't just say, "Okay we're going to take this family and place them in LA or somewhere." First of all it's not fair to the family itself. Nor is it fair to the community. They need to go somewhere where you can deprogram them and show them another life. And it's going to be just as hard as kicking the drug habit or any other addiction.

Suzan Mazur: What would you like to see happen down there in Colorado City to resolve the situation?

Buster Johnson: Law enforcement should go to every house and say: "Okay - everybody outside the house. Mothers stand with children. Okay, you're the mother and this is your child." And then you get the birth certificates. "You're 36 and this child is 24, so obviously you were 12 - an underage marriage. It looks like you were 15, etc. Somebody did this."

And that way you can show rape's been going on and is continuing. Along with polygamy. You can show it's very incestuous.

Suzan Mazur: You're talking about local law enforcement doing this. And if local law enforcement doesn't do it, then the FBI should go in.

Buster Johnson: Good law enforcement could put an end to this. But I think once they do that, then you have to take the families. You can bring in psychiatrists and try to save as many as you can. The ones you can't save, stay there until they die.

You can't release rapists and those sort of people into a society. At the same time, if you have children that can be saved and their mothers and fathers, then maybe you can re-acclimate them into a normal society.

Suzan Mazur: Is there anything you'd like to say in closing?

Buster Johnson: We need to look at who has facilitated the cult for all these years. And those people need to be held accountable - specific elected officials, bureaucrats, law enforcement people who turned their back and allowed the people of Colorado City to get to the position where they are today. Where it's normal for people to be raped and beaten and there are no consequences.



Suzan Mazur has traveled through the western US covering the polygamy story, contributing a series on the subject to the Financial Times, writing for the editorial pages of Newsday and the Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as Maclean's, CounterPunch and Scoop. She has been a guest on Fox Television News with Paula Zahn and Bill O'Reilly discussing the issue and on numerous radio shows. Email: sznmzr @

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