Those who followed the ancient secret combinations as instituted by Satan among his followers were known from around 50 BC until the end of the Book of Mormon chronicle as Gadianton robbers, after the name of the man who instituted the practice at the time of Helaman, son of Helaman and father of Nephi and Lehi. From time to time thereafter, the Gadianton robbers appeared among both the Nephites and the Lamanites like a malignancy, sometimes destructive and other times receding and vanishing into the shadows—all according to the opportunities of the day and the willingness of the people to be involved in secret plots to gain power and wealth by conspiracy and murder. These followers of Satan were resisted by the righteous of both nations , but they displayed astounding resilience. During the cataclysms at the death of Jesus Christ, the Gadianton robbers were destroyed , but they were again revived in the third century after Christ among the Nephites and later among the Lamanites. Mormon fought against them toward the end of the Book of Mormon account.
And my heart did sorrow because of this the great calamity of my people, because of their wickedness and their abominations. But behold, we did go forth against the Lamanites and the robbers of Gadianton, until we had again taken possession of the lands of our inheritance.
And the three hundred and forty and ninth year had passed away. And in the three hundred and fiftieth year we made a treaty with the Lamanites and the robbers of Gadianton, in which we did get the lands of our inheritance divided.
The Gadianton robbers and their supporters proved to be the central factor in the extinction of the Nephite nation. “And behold, in the end of this book ye shall see that this Gadianton did prove the overthrow, yea, almost the entire destruction of the people of Nephi”. Secret combinations within the Jaredite nation also played a major role in the destruction of that civilization, as Moroni emphasized. “For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man.... And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking [the Jaredites], and also the destruction of the people of Nephi”.