Netflix is preparing a six-part documentary called "Wild Wild Country" that looks into one of the strangest and most dangerous times in recent Oregon history.
It will examine the Rajneeshee takeover of a ranch and small town in Central Oregon.
In 1981, the group bought the ranch near the tiny town of Antelope and began setting up what would become a settlement of 2,000 people.
“I think when they first arrived here they were asking to be treated fairly and honorably," said Bob Weaver, a former assistant U.S. attorney in charge of the criminal division for Oregon.
Weaver eventually spent two years doing nothing but looking into federal crimes committed by the Rajneeshees.
The commune first took over the town of Antelope then tried to take over the Wasco County government, along the way poisoning more than 700 people with salmonella in salad bars.
And then there were the weapons. The compound had lots of guns.
“Having created this ranch, they qualified under Oregon law to form a police force,” Weaver said.
It allowed them to buy anything the state police had and formed a significant threat to law enforcement.
“Now our assumption at all times was that they were not loyal to that badge, they were loyal to the Bhagwan and if push came to shove, which fortunately it never did but came close a time or two, that we could not rely on them to honor their law enforcement obligation,” remembers Weaver.
As the group learned federal prosecutors were preparing cases against them, they decided to kill the top U.S. attorney in Oregon, Charles Turner.
“I recall, they assigned the job of murdering Mr. Turner to a handful of people who got false ids, I believe in New York, who then went to Texas and bought cold guns and were training for an ambush near his home. And had everything in place when at the last minute, it could have been Shelia or someone else at the ranch, called that off. But they came, this close,” Weaver said holding his thumb and forefinger close together.
Eventually, it all ended. The Bhagwan was arrested and deported. Several others went to prison.
The ranch is now owned by the Christian group Young Life. It’s the largest Young Life camp in the world.
The show will begin streaming on Netflix March 16.
Want to know more ? We highly recommend this in-depth report by Les Zaitz, during his time as a reporter with The Oregonian.