Self-professed cult settles in northeastern New Mexico

KOBV/November 19, 2002

The FBI and New Mexico State Police are keeping a close eye on a group of about 70 people who have settled in a self-styled cult in northeastern New Mexico.

They came from the Pacific Northwest and settled near Travesser Creek. They follow a man who calls himself Michael of Travesser, although they call him Michael the Archangel.

"The fathers in heaven just had us move, and so here we are," says Michael. "What more can we say?"

Michael says investigators keeping an eye on the group's compound, which they call Strong City, have visited before and are welcome to visit again.

"[They] started questioning children and families and we told them they were welcome anytime, they could come anytime they want," said Michael. "We're not government hostile. It's not a threat to us."

State police are taking Michael up on his offer to stay in touch.

"We monitor and hope we can stop it by them knowing they're being watched," says Maj. Fernando Gallegos of Department of Public Safety Special Investigations Division. 'If you're an adult, it's your prerogative, I guess. But the children is what we want to keep an eye on."

The same Bible passages that brought the group to New Mexico say it should stay only three and a half years. That time is up late next year. After that, Michael is unsure what the group will do.

"We didn't know how this wilderness retreat would work out, but this is how it worked out," he said. "So we just watch, but we don't have an expectation of what will happen. We really don't know."

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