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Mazur: LDS Church -- Mexico Drug Money Connection?

LDS Church -- Mexico Drug Money Connection?

By Suzan Mazur

"When a Mexican bishop declared that drug traffickers often donate to the church, shock waves ran through this predominantly Roman Catholic nation not because the news was a surprise, but because admitting it was tantamount to confessing that nothing, not even God, is sacred when it comes to organized crime in Mexico. Provoking an uproar were Bishop Ramon Godinez’s comments to reporters that donations from drug traffickers are not unusual and it’s not the church’s responsibility to investigate. He argued that the money is “purified” once it passes through parish doors."
– Lisa J. Adams, AP, 10/5/5 [ Mexican Church Gets Donations From Drug Dealers ]

Click for big version

Map Of Mormon Stakes & Missions In Mexico - Source

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has had a presence in what is now Mexico since the 1870s. Some of those early polygamist Mormon settlers of Chihuahua's Colonia Dublan and Colonia Juarez – where Mitt Romney’s father George W. was born and where some Romney family still lives (George somehow ran for US President in 1968) [ See… Scoop: Suzan Mazur: Big Love, Romney, Bush & Mormons ] – returned to Salt Lake City at one point bringing marijuana with them. The blood atonement and drugs cocktail of Mexico's polygamist Ervil LeBaron family would haunt the Mormon culture in years to come.

Click for big version

Map Of Colonia Juarez & Surroundings - Source

But while the LDS church now forbids the use of marijuana and other intoxicants, it does not ask whether drug profits might be the source of the 10% annual income donation all “temple worthy” Mormons must pay the church. And it’s strictly between the LDS church and God as to how much money is in the church treasury as well as how it is spent. So with the countries of Latin America coming into their own as narco-economies in the mid 1980s, it is particularly curious that the Mormon Church began stepping up its proselytizing there, particularly in Mexico.

Beginning in 1985 and until 1990, the LDS growth rate rose 15.29%, from 302,000 to 615,000 in Mexico. Most sources place the current LDS Mexico membership at between 3 and 4 million. Here's the breakdown cited in Utah's Deseret News (Hunter/2000) [ Click here: The Growth of Protestant Religions in Mexico and Central America ]

1980 -- 241,521
1985 -- 302,000
1990 -- 615,000
1995 -- 735,000
1999 -- 783,000

The Graduate Center, City University of New York presents somewhat different figures. See… American Religious Identification Survey

Alex Shoumatoff visited Colonia Juarez in 1997 researching his book Legends of the American Desert.. He said the following:

"Colonia Juarez was the birthplace of the politician George Romney. It was a flourishing enclave of imported America, frozen in the fifties, with two-storey brick houses and fruit orchards. . ., whose wholesomeness was becoming eroded by narcotrafico; dealers, some of them wayward Saints, were building big houses in the neighborhood."

In their book The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and its Hold on America , Sally Denton and Roger Morris have noted that the LDS church has in the past not been averse to accepting dirty money:

“. . .as a handful of insiders knew, a special private plane began leaving Las Vegas every Monday morning for Salt Lake City, carrying to the LDS headquarters millions of dollars earned and tithed in the city.”

And there have been numerous reports by residents and observers of Hildale-Colorado City, the polygamist colony straddling the Utah-Arizona border, that over the past 20 years the Colorado City airport, which was built with Fed millions, has served as a Mena, Arkansas type transit point for drugs, drug money, guns as well as trafficking of women.

Just north of the Grand Canyon and a short hop from Vegas, it replaced the unpaved airstrip that served planes going all the way back to the 1960s, long before it became Arizona’s “1992 Airport of the Year” run by Ladell Bistline, who has since fled the polygamist cult following the redistribution of his wives. What does all this say about widespread church/state criminal activity? [Click here: Scoop: The AZ Polygamy Town Airport Built With Fed $$$Mns]

Who are Mexico's LDS members? A seeming cross-section of Mexican culture -- merchants, restaurant workers, shippers, farmers, security personnel, bankers, government officials, etc.

And with the Mexican political economy awash in drug money, how can narco-dollars not be a significant part of LDS Church Mexico tithes?

We also know that the Mormon Church has a long history of feeding personnel to the US intel agencies, the CIA and FBI – J. Edgar Hoover started the Bureau with Mormon agents. Alex Shoumatoff in his book, for example, recounts running into Bill Casey in the VIP gallery of the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City one afternoon. That means there is a good chance monies pouring into church coffers could also be black budget earmarked:

“One afternoon in the summer of 1983, I sat in the VIP gallery [of Salt Lake City’s LDS church] with two fidgety men in their thirties and an old man, who turned out to be William Casey, then director of the CIA, and his Secret Service guards. The Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation recruit heavily from the Saints, who make ideal operatives because they are extremely patriotic and have an aptitude for surveillance technology.”

And as I’ve noted in previous stories, when Robert Mueller took over as FBI Bureau Chief, he moved Darwin A. John -- the LDS church’s Chief Information Officer for more than a decade -- into the FBI CIO spot.

Some hard questions need to be raised about the so-called fastest growing religion in America and its former bishop, Mitt Romney, now running as a follow-up to George W. Bush for US President. Are you listening Sharpton and Hitchens?


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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