The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is the national law enforcement agency for Canada. They've worked with the Texas Rangers on a case that's now 10 years old but is still being dealt with in Canadian courtrooms. Now, with their cases winding down, they've honored a Texas Ranger who's been involved since the beginning.
"You knew going in that there were a lot of things that could've went wrong,” Texas Ranger Nick Hanna with Company E. said.
Texas Ranger Nick Hanna, not new to the job but new to the area, had just set up his office in San Angelo when he and around 50 other law enforcement officers served a search warrant on the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Schleicher County in 2008.
"Everybody involved was not deterred by this great obstacle,” Hanna said.
It was a massive ranch with dozens of buildings spread out over more than 1,500 acres. The search was an extreme undertaking and effort to save young girls from sexual assault. Ranger Hanna credits everyone involved for taking on the task.
"To have the gumption to follow through with the search warrant,” Hanna said.
According to a release by the Texas Department of Public Safety, it was discovered that girls were being taken from Canada to several locations in the United States, including Schleicher County, to take part in "spiritual marriages" with much older men. Some of the girls were as young as 12 years old.
That's where the Texas Rangers came in. They were instrumental in the RCMP's investigation. After going across the U.S. and into Canada to make sure justice was served, Ranger Hanna, a key player says the recognition from the RCMP isn't just honoring the Rangers.
"It's really also a reflection on anyone in San Angelo that contributed. Whether you cooked a meal for those kids, or you bought tennis shoes and brought them up there, or maybe just said a prayer. I think it was maybe our community's time in the spotlight for America and hey, San Angelo showed it's true colors of West Texas and the kind of people who live there,” Hanna said.
But he couldn't let his new friends go without teasing them a little...
"I thought maybe I'd get keys to the country or a new 4-wheeler or something like that,” Hanna said.
After a decade of fighting for the victims, he says it's nice to see an end to the trials in sight.