Message led to discovery of 11 kids in New Mexico compound – Two men and three mothers of 11 children arrested

LEFT: This Friday, Aug. 3, 2018, photo released by Taos County Sheriff's Office shows Siraj Wahhaj. Wahhaj was jailed on a Georgia warrant alleging child abduction after law enforcement officers searching a rural northern New Mexico compound for a missing 3-year-old boy found 11 children in filthy conditions and hardly any food. RIGHT: This Friday, Aug. 3, 2018, photo released by Taos County Sheriff's Office shows Lucas Morten. Morten was arrested on suspicion of harboring a fugitive after law enforcement officers searching a rural northern New Mexico compound for a missing 3-year-old boy found 11 children in filthy conditions and hardly any food. (Taos County Sheriff's Office via AP) The children ranging in age from 1 to 15 were removed from the compound in the small community of Amalia, N.M, and turned over to state child-welfare workers, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said. Hogrefe said the search did not turn up the missing boy, but that investigators had reason to believe the boy had been at the compound fairly recently. (Taos County Sheriff's Office via AP)

TAOS, N.M. (AP) 08/05 — A message that people were starving, believed to come from someone inside a makeshift compound in rural northern New Mexico, led to the discovery of 11 children living in filthy conditions.

Taos County Sheriff’s officials said Saturday the children ranging in age from 1 to 15 were removed from the compound in the small community of Amalia — 145 miles (233 kilometers) northeast of Albuquerque and in an isolated high-desert area near the New Mexico-Colorado border. They were then turned over to state child-welfare workers.

Two men were arrested during the search. Siraj Wahhaj was detained on an outstanding warrant in Georgia alleging child abduction. Lucas Morten was jailed on suspicion of harboring a fugitive, Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said.

It was not immediately clear Sunday if either had retained an attorney.

A 3-year-old boy reported missing from Georgia’s Clayton County since December 2017 was not among the 11 children found at the compound.

This Friday, Aug. 3, 2018, aerial photo released by Taos County Sheriff’s Office shows a rural compound during an unsuccessful search for a missing 3-year-old boy in Amalia, N.M. Law enforcement officers searching the compound for the missing child didn’t locate him but found 11 other children in filthy conditions and hardly any food, a sheriff said Saturday. The children ranging in age from 1 to 15 were removed from the compound and turned over to state child-welfare workers, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said.in Taos, N.M. (Taos County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

 

Three women, believed to be the mothers of the children, were detained and later released.

“The children are in our custody and our number one priority right now is their health and safety,” New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department Secretary Monique Jacobsons said in a statement. “We will continue to work closely with law enforcement on this investigation.”

The search at the compound just a few miles from the Colorado border came amid a two-month investigation in collaboration with Clayton County authorities and the FBI, according to Hogrefe.

He said FBI agents had surveilled the area a few weeks ago but didn’t find probable cause to search the property.

That changed when Georgia detectives forwarded a message to Hogrefe’s office that initially had been sent to a third party, saying: “We are starving and need food and water.”

The sheriff said there was reason to believe the message came from someone inside the compound.

“I absolutely knew that we couldn’t wait on another agency to step up and we had to go check this out as soon as possible,” Hogrefe said.

What authorities found was what Hogrefe called “the saddest living conditions and poverty” he has seen in 30 years on the job.

Other than a few potatoes and a box of rice, there was little food in the compound, which Hogrefe said consisted of a small travel trailer buried in the ground and covered by plastic with no water, plumbing and electricity.

Hogrefe said the adults and children were without shoes and wore basically dirty rags for clothing and “looked like Third World country refugees.”

This Friday, Aug. 3, 2018, photo released by Taos County Sheriff’s Office shows a rural compound after being found in filthy conditions during an unsuccessful search for a missing 3-year-old boy in Amalia, N.M. Law enforcement officers searching the compound for the missing child didn’t locate him but found 11 other children in filthy conditions and hardly any food, a sheriff said Saturday. The children ranging in age from 1 to 15 were removed from the compound and turned over to state child-welfare workers, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said.in Taos, N.M. (Taos County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

 

This Friday, Aug. 3, 2018, photo released by Taos County Sheriff’s Office shows a rural compound during an unsuccessful search for a missing 3-year-old boy in Amalia, N.M. Law enforcement officers searching the compound for the missing child didn’t locate him but found 11 other children in filthy conditions and hardly any food, a sheriff said Saturday. The children ranging in age from 1 to 15 were removed from the compound and turned over to state child-welfare workers, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said.in Taos, N.M. (Taos County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

 

The group appeared to be living at the compound for a few months, but the sheriff said it remains unclear how or why they ended up in New Mexico.

https://www.apnews.com/264a1a8733064ac7ac7e8f5c50a85828/New-Mexico-sheriff:-Compound-searched,-11-kids-removed

Mothers of 11 children found at New Mexico compound arrested

TAOS, N.M. (AP) 08/06 — Authorities say they’ve arrested three women believed to be the mothers of 11 children found living in filth in a makeshift compound in rural northern New Mexico.

Taos County, New Mexico, Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said Monday that the women and two men who were arrested over the weekend face charges of child abuse.

He says 35-year-old Jany Leveille, 38-year-old Hujrah Wahhaj and 35-year-old Subhannah Wahha were arrested without incident in the town of Taos and booked into jail.

This Friday, Aug. 3, 2018, photo released by Taos County Sheriff’s Office shows a rural compound during an unsuccessful search for a missing 3-year-old boy in Amalia, N.M. Law enforcement officers searching the compound for the missing child didn’t locate him but found 11 other children in filthy conditions and hardly any food, a sheriff said Saturday. The children ranging in age from 1 to 15 were removed from the compound and turned over to state child-welfare workers, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said.in Taos, N.M. (Taos County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

 

The children ranging in age from 1 to 15 were removed from the compound in the small community of Amalia near the Colorado border. They were turned over to state child-welfare workers.

Hogrefe says police still are looking for 4-year-old AG Wahhaj, reported missing from Georgia’s Clayton County. His birthday is Monday.

https://www.apnews.com/50f9c12f10ac45418974f38fd2ee6bee/Moms-of-11-children-found-at-New-Mexico-compound-arrested

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Posted in: Abuse, Arrests, Crime & Criminals, FBI, Illegal Activities, Juveniles, Search Warrants, Sheriffs, Surveillance, Victims of Crime

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