It was an unprecedented and intense operation, when state troopers raided the Yearning For Zion ranch in El Dorado on April 4. More than 400 children were removed from the ranch, along with more than 100 women.
Emails obtained by Eyewitness News through a Dallas law firm show urgency, and at times, even uncertainty about what is next, calling the raid and the days following a "highly complicated and risky operation."
Just days after the children were removed and housed in the San Angelo Coliseum, a leading DPS official sent an email to another state official saying, "There has been an outbreak of chicken pox at the shelter. Many concerns. I am stopping the move for tomorrow."
"We must know what their plan is for separation. This is getting out of hand," the email said
"I think a lot of people would agree with that sentiment that at some point this did get out of hand," said attorney ad litem Amber Liddell Alwais.
Alwais is an attorney ad litem for one of the children. Her law firm obtained the emails through the Freedom Of Information Act.
"There was certainly some assemblance of disorder there," she said.
Two days later, more concerns exchanged via email, this time regarding the adults.
"We have reason to believe as a result of interviews that some of the mothers are planning to conduct a "run." Their objective would be to hide from law enforcement authorities."
As a result, the state went on to say it would increase staff on site and law enforcement.
And the emails say that the state was also considering confronting the adult women and making some of them aware they were a known flight risk.
The email goes on to say a plan was discussed with a high-ranking state official.
"To remove the three "first" wives, who have substantial influence over the other adult women and have been engaged in obfuscation from the outset of the operations."
"I think if the state were to do a removal of this nature again of this great number of children that there would be a better-thought-out plan in advance," Alwais said.
It's been a week now since more than 400 children from the YFZ ranch were reunited with their parents, a move many ad litems supported.
"It helps our client because she gets to be able to be at home in a stable environment with someone who loves her," Alwais said.
While CPS moves forward with its case, hundreds of ad litems for the children are doing the same -- preparing for another possible day in court.
The Texas code allows the state 180 days to complete its investigation. While the children are at home with their families for now, it could be months before we know it is known whether they will stay there for good.
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