A Long Time Ago in what seemed to be a Galaxy far, far away...

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May 15, 2002
Clark County, Nevada
I'm choosing to share the below now, because my 'Close Encounter of the FLDS Kind' occurred over four years ago now, and enough has changed over time to where I no longer consider this sensitive. The VHF repeater in-question was taken off the air back in 2012 or early 2013.

It still gives me goosebumps though to think that as soon as I started to 'spy' on them, I found they were already 'spying on me – the hunter becoming the hunted was not a good feeling.

The Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints community of 'Short Creek' (Hildale UT/Colorado City AZ) has changed a lot since my incident, plus I've moved out of the area. When I lived relatively close & passed by on a weekly basis, I kept a special interest in the community because well, it was so strange. I remember Jim Jones & 'Jonestown,' as well as David Koresh & the Branch Davidians, and didn't think the FLDS with their 'prophet' Warren Jeffs was much better. Even though he'd been locked-up in prison since before I moved to the area, he & his deputies still tightly controlled things via the FLDS security group, nick-named “the god squad.” Through both direct force or covert terrorist acts (vandalism, arson, brutally killing livestock or family pets, etc.) these henchmen kept a tight reign of control on the community. The local police force – Colorado City Town Marshall's Office – had been known in the past of colluding with the god-squad. Not surprising, since most if not all of the officers were local FLDS members & residents & prior officers had lost their state-issued police powers due to pledging loyalty to their prophet even if his instructions were contrary to federal, state or local law. Interestingly, the local police channel started using MDC1200 signaling at the exact same time that the 'god squad' (aka 'goon squad) did on their repeater. The significance of that did not escape me...

Much of the land in the community was actually owned by the FLDS church via trust, so whenever the 'prophet' decided to banish a man or even child from the community, it wasn't tough to enforce it, especially in a community where the sheeple were accustomed to having the 'prophet' determine who could marry who, if & when they could have children, etc. (with the leadership getting the prettiest, youngest brides brides for themselves, or giving one to an obedient man). Its no-wonder that so many graves in the local cemetery are for people who died in their teens or even younger – complications from in-breeding & suicide, I believe (do a Google search on 'Lost Boys' + FLDS).

Other law enforcement agencies basically kept a hands-off approach. The community was isolated, & due to the tight grip of the FLDS & women believing they were subservient to the men, crime was & is pretty low there. The FLDS didn't want 'outsiders' interfering with their way or life, and I believe the two sheriff depts (Washington county Utah & Mohave County Arizona) plus the two state police agencies tended to just stay away, to avoid any sort of perception of religious harassment.

Anyway, only when one of these 'god squad' loons was kicked-out of the organization himself did things finally start to change. He sued & won a court judgement a couple years ago, which was settled by him actually getting the large, walled compound on Utah Avenue that was built for the 'prophet' Warren Jeffs – the property that had the surveillance & security team watching it 24/7 & that noticed me before I noticed them during my escapade detailed below.

157.620/210.7Hz FLDS Security/Special Operations in Hildale/Colorado City area. No license found, & full-time speech inversion. Input 152.405/210.7

I later found what I think was an FCC license for the channel pair. The license was issued to a local FLDS-controlled factory however the comms on the repeater were solely related to protection of the prophet's compound & 'god squad' operations.

**************From 2011*************

Every Thursday late morning, I travel from my home near St George Utah to the Best Friends
Animal Society sanctuary in Kanab Utah.* It's about a 90 minute drive that actually requires me to cut
through a section of Arizona.*** I pass the monotony by listening to Sirius/XM satellite radio as
well as my ham radio & police scanner.* My Uniden BC-996XT scanner in the car has a feature called
Close-Call, which when turned-on, automatically searches the radio spectrum and will tune-in
any strong radio signals it detects.***** Sometimes while out in these remote areas, the transmitter it
detects can easily be 20 or more miles away.

* A month or two ago while driving the route to/from Kanab, the Close Call feature locked-on to a
VHF frequency that had speech-inversion scrambling on it while I was passing through the border
communities of Hildale (Washington County Utah) & Colorado City (Mohave County Arizona).
*Despite two separate town names, for all intents & purposes, these are really just one community,
half of it on the Utah side of the border, & the other half on the Arizona side.* Interestingly, one police
dept provides services for the community on both sides of the state border.

** Hildale/Colorado City is about 20 air-miles & 30 driving miles from my home, & population is
probably just a couple thousand people.** The community is deliberately located in the middle
of nowhere (other than having the fairly major state highway running through it) because
it was settled by members of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS).*** Regular Mormons (LDS)
pretty much look & act just like everyone else and their religion outlawed polygamy over 100
years ago.* But the FLDS people stick to the older religious values (allowing polygamy, apparently
allowing marrying girls still in their early teens, etc) & they stand-out when you see them because the
females all wear hand-made dresses of the same design, and have their hair in the same design -- they
look like they're right out of the late 1800s.******* If you've heard of Warren Jeffs, he was & still is one of
the FLDS spiritual leaders -- a "prophet." He's locked-up now on charges of raping some 14 year old girl inside one of the
big FLDS compound in Texas, which was raided by authorities about 3 years ago and you may remember
seeing the footage of all the creepy-looking Stepford-Wives women.* Warren Jeffs was on the run for a
while, but when he was finally caught, he was in a multi-SUV motorcade that had firearms, police scanners,
16 cellphones & $55,000 cash in it.

** So, I come upon this mysterious, scrambled radio frequency that based on signal strength, is definitely coming from the general area of Hildale/Colorado City.** I check the FCC database when I get home, and find no licenses in Utah or Arizona for that frequency (it's in spectrum that would be allocated for commercial businesses).* I hear their Town Marshall & FD on other, licensed repeaters, and this scrambled freq seems to be pretty busy, day & night as sometimes I pass through the area back on my way home from Kanab as late as 9 or 10PM, and I can weakly copy the signal at home & have heard lengthy comms as late as 2 or 3AM.

* Speech-inversion scrambling is a very old & primitive voice privacy system -- the US military briefly used it around WW-II but quickly decided it wasn't secure enough.*** But in the 1950s & 1960s some PDs & other organizations wanting to protect their communications against casual eavesdroppers bought & used this sort of gear.** Starting in the 1970s, scanner hobbyists could buy kits or complete boxes to decide speech-inversion, and I bought one in the mid-1980s when living in a city where the local PD had & occasionally used it.* I hardwired my decoder up to a small communications receiver called a Yaesu FRG-9600.** Some hobbyists say they had some success decoding single-phase speech inversion by using a radio receiver capable of SSB.

*** Speeding down UT-89/AZ-389 passing through Hildale/Colorado City on my way to/from Kanab, I'd always
hear the scrambled comms, but be in too big of a hurry to try to investigate the source.**** It's not like there are
any big industries, let alone industries needing the added security of scrambling their comms, around there, so the educated guess that came to my mind is that Hildale/Colorado City is still the home to Warren Jeffs & now that he's locked-up (probably for life), his designated successor, and that the scrambled comms I was hearing was some sort of security detail for him/his home.*** As you scanner-geeks can relate, this mystery was bugging me a lot, so today I dug-up the FRG-9600, hooked it up to the big HF antenna on the back of my car, & drove down to Hildale/Colorado City.

*** It figures -- the freq was quiet for the first 45 minutes I was there, but I just sat in the car in a central area &
ate my lunch & read the newspaper.* Finally there was activity on the freq.** It is illegal to decode/decrypt
encrypted communications you are not a party to, so of course I did not do that, but instead I channeled the
love & great wisdom of Supreme Leader Obama and the decoded communications magically appeared in my
head!* The base ID'ed as "Control," and it was quickly clear that these were security-related comms for some sort
of facility/compound -- "Farwest Bravo to control, West perimeter is secure."* "Charlie to control, North & East
gates are secure." "Charlie to Control, I have two sets of binoculars at my location, does any other unit need binocs?"
At one point, Control asked a unit to do an outer perimeter check -- "Just walk around the block and look for
unusual activity."*** Lots of comms, but all rather professional & no BS'ing.**** Again, knowing that there really
weren't any important or sensitive industries around, I was really starting to think that these comms were
indeed security-related for the acting FLDS leader's compound, similar to the Branch Davidian's compound
down in Waco, and was both impressed & nervous about how professional these guys (who if I was right,
would nonetheless be religious whack-jobs) were being on the radio.

*** Many, many homes in Hildale/Colorado City have walls around them for both privacy & security.* Some of
the homes were pretty massive houses, or looked like apartment buildings.* I understand the way it works
for these guys with the multiple wives is that there is one main home section he lives in, and then there are
several 'apartments' built-in that his various wives & kids live in, and the wives rotate taking turns sleeping
with him in the main house section.* These %$#@* have money because they refuse to pay property taxes,
and they have one legal wife, but there 4 or 5 illegal wives all claim to be unwed mothers and receive financial
subsidies from the federal & state gov'ts, all of which of course are turned-over to the husband, so he can buy a new Yukon XL or Ford Excursion each year plus have the big house.* The FLDS people are also required to turn a good chunk of their 'earnings' over to their church, and that's how their church & the bigwigs have huge mansions with massive walls.

* From a prior time driving around through the neighborhood, I knew there was one street in particular that had
some estates behind some very tall & thick walls, so I figured my best bet was to try to find that area again,
discretely park somewhere & wait for the guys to talk & then confirm/deny the location based on signal strength
(the FRG-9600 has a very nice LCD signal-strength indicator & front-panel attenuator) & maybe look for lots of
CCTVs, a VHF antenna on the roof, and someone walking an outer perimeter check.

* I did not get a chance to do any of that, because all of a sudden on the frequency, I hear a unit report to Control
that there's a ______ (make & model of my car) with a very large antenna on the back, heading down the street
towards the compound.*** THEY SAW ME, BEFORE I SAW THEM!** I hate it when that happens, but on the other
hand, I am extremely lucky that I knew they were on to me because if I didn't have that COMINT, when I did drive
just a little further down the road & come up on the block-sized compound with about a* 15' tall wall around it,
I probably would have taken some photos of it, which really would have set these guys off.** Instead, I made a turn onto
another road which I knew would take me back towards AZ-389 & deliberately pretended to ignore the compound.
Another unit reported my turn, and Control responded with "Roger that, we have a vehicle following him now."

* In the past, I've discretely driven in the vicinity of all sorts of federal, state & local surveillances (albeit without
numerous antennas on my car) & those guys never noticed me, but THESE FLDS security guys not only noticed, but followed me simply because I drove down a residential road near their compound, and had some mysterious, small & large antennas on my car!*** There were a couple cars behind me (it's not like that road would never get any traffic on it, which is another amazing thing) but I think the one following me was a big, black SUV that had one of those fold-down spotlights on the rooftop.* I stopped at the stop sign at US-389 & he pulled-in to a convenience store at that intersection. I was pretending to look at a map but saw that he did look at me when he got out of the truck & walked into the store.* I drove down the highway about 1/4 mile but then made a left turn into an industrial park, & heard him (or someone) report that back to "Control" too.


* I decided I'd had enough excitement for one day.* It's one thing to gently mess with gov't agencies, but
when it comes to organized, religious whackos, all it takes is for their "Prophet" to say you're a threat,
& then you disappear.** These guys are in the same league as the Branch Davidians or Taliban, except they're
larger than the Branch Davidians ever got.

* I should also note that the small police & fire departments have also been in trouble in the past because for
example, the police officers pledged their allegiance to the FLDS leadership regardless of any laws, etc. so
while it may have been one thing for the guy in the black SUV to approach me (I would have driven off, &
in the worst-case scenario, I had a handgun within reach), I couldn't exactly do that if it was a marked police

* I'm trying to find the compound on Google Maps & Google Earth.* There are a couple that could be it,
but I'm not sure.* When I did come across it, I was too busy trying to play dumb & get the hell out of
there & not looking at street names.

* The good news is that 30 minutes later while out of the area, I did hear them talking about a different
"suspicious" vehicle that was in the area of the compound, albeit no antennas on it.

* These guys are clearly paranoid that the county/state/federal gov't is going to raid them at any time,
so they have these multiple people doing countersurveillance 24/7.

* The scary thing of course is what will happen if/when the gov't does raid them.** Most of the land the houses sit on is apparently owned by an FLDS Land Trust, which is being taken to court for the back-taxes owed. This
is dragging on & on but could eventually means UT & AZ could come to try to evict these people off the land,
and that probably won't go over too well.

Take a look at:




* I'm hoping my 25 year old FRG-9600 is still sensitive enough to hear these guys from my home, so
I can gather intel on them & maybe record some of their comms.**

* This might be worth buying a cheap Motorola VHF handheld on their freq & then buying the speech-inversion
board for it & trying the different codes (I assume there aren't many) until it properly decodes these guys.


Completely Banned for the Greater Good
Jan 29, 2006
Wow ... spooky stuff ! I have one of the old DNE-12 inversion decoders that used to be sold in the 80's :D. 73, n9zas


Nov 7, 2003
I don't know the veracity of what was going on, but it's a cool story. You should write a book. I like that kinda "spooky" tense action drama stuff.


Feb 24, 2001
Based on some research and a visit there some years ago I find this statement of yours most curious:

so I figured my best bet was to try to find that area again, discretely [sic] park somewhere & wait for the guys to talk & then confirm/deny the location based on signal strength

I don't think a non resident can even slow down near the town, let alone park and have it be "discreet." I knew a guy from college who was a psychologist for Mohave County some years ago. He said he had to fly to Colorado City frequently to work with children born with birth defects that resulted from inbreeding. He said that any non resident car that enters town is followed. I heard this from him after visiting the town so I wasn't observant enough to know if we were followed when we pulled through town.

At the time there was nothing in town for a non resident such as a store, gas station or restaurant. When I saw the women walking on the sidewalks or roads is was like stepping onto the sets of the movie "The Stepford Wives." My wife wanted to stay and talk with people. I was in the driver's seat and had a different idea, I drove out of town as soon as I could.

Later on, while working for the Forest Service, I was an inspector on some trail maintenance contracts and was involved on show me trips for the contract offers. Colorado City sent people to look and later bid on our contracts. The representatives told me they had trouble finding young men employment so they bid on trail work and grazing improvements offered by the Forest Service, BLM and National Park Service. They wanted work that was remote in nature and labor intensive. They didn't win the contracts I was involved with so I never had the experience of observing how good, or not, their work was.

The situation is rather odd. I hear that some young men (18+) are just dumped out on the streets of Salt Lake City as there is nothing for them to do in Colorado City. That from that same college acquaintance I spoke of earlier and others.

The area is remote enough that I don't think a lot people reading this are going to jump up and drive there as a result of this thread. At least I hope it is remote enough. We don't need a bunch of radio hobby types driving in the town with antennas all over their cars. I say leave them alone and let the government deal with their law violations.
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Apr 8, 2004
The reason the young men are expelled is the need to minimize male competition for brides. These guys bid on all types of civil work around Utah and Nevada, getting around prevailing wage laws because they are all owners. This group is heavily into child sex trade. Read Under the Banner of God.


Feb 24, 2001
The reason the young men are expelled is the need to minimize male competition for brides. These guys bid on all types of civil work around Utah and Nevada, getting around prevailing wage laws because they are all owners. This group is heavily into child sex trade. Read Under the Banner of God.

I forgot about "Under the Banner of God." Jon Krakauer is an incredible author. The book was quite revealing, but my memory is not what it used to be. I'm pretty sure I kept the book and should reread it.

What I related above is based on my own observations and conversations with a friend who, at one time, worked for Mohave County, Arizona. The trail maintenance contracts I was involved with were in southwestern New Mexico.

My wife was searching periodicals for a project while getting her masters degree. She found an article she needed in a 1952 Life magazine that also had an article on the raid at Short Creek, now Colorado City. We took a trip from Flagstaff up to the Arizona Strip via the Navajo Bridge and Jacob Lake. We went through Colorado City out to St. George, though Henderson, over the dam, down to Kingman and back to Flagstaff on U.S. 66 and I-40. Colorado City was not as large then and a single dirt road provided access to the town where many of the roads were paved. The dirt road was very washboarded and slow. This discouraged people from going there. There was not a single business in the town that would draw outsiders to the town. I found visiting the town a spooky experience.


Premium Subscriber
Feb 23, 2007
Florence, AZ
I got the song from mission impossible in my head as I read this. I have been out that way and remember seeing the place you worked at. I told my wife that someone from that scanner website I spend time works there. When I went by Hildale I only had one antenna on my trunk (mag mount). The last time was last June, I took my grand kids to Zion, Bryce and the North Rim.


May 15, 2002
Clark County, Nevada
There's been A LOT going on down there in 'Short Creek' since I made the initial post -- federal indictment & raid by the FBI, supported by state/local LEA. The evidence/intel kind of supports the suspicions & concerns I had back when I was poking around there -- there was collusion between the local authorities, including police, and the FLDS leadership.

One way I kind of figured that on my own was because about the same time MDC1200 encoding became actively used on the scrambled 'god squad' VHF repeater system, it suddenly became in active use on the Colorado City Town Marshall VHF repeater.

Anyway, court documents from a recent legal proceeding indicated that the conspirators down there (local gov't officials & FLDS leadership & security) were using those old Nextels that were capable of direct/talk-around mode, because they knew it was a "secure" & short-range comm system that bypassed infrastructure out of their control.

I wonder if that was before, or after the use of the scrambled repeater? I'm kind of glad I never made any recordings of the scrambled repeater traffic, and as far as I know, no one from the federal gov't had entered such communications intelligence into evidence (for OPSEC reasons, a lot of time they'll monitor "for intelligence value only" & specifically not introduce comint into court).
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