Eleven children rescued from New Mexico compound after 'we're starving' note

08 August, 2018, 15:36 | Author: Katrina Soto
  • Eleven children were held with little food or water in a makeshift compound in Amalia N.M. for an unknown period of time before police raided the location on Friday Aug. 3 2018

Police say 11 children ages one to 15 were rescued in the USA state of New Mexico after officers raided a dilapidated compound occupied by armed men.

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.

The Sheriff's Office named the three females as Jany Leveille (35), Hujrah Wahhaj (38), and Subhannah Wahhaj (35).

An aerial view of the "compound" where 11 emaciated children were found near Amalia, New Mexico.

The boy's mother told police her child, who she said suffered from seizures along with development and cognitive delays, went to the park with his father Mr Wahhaj last December and never returned.

Hogrefe's deputies are searching for the child, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Georgia authorities in Clayton County, where officials say the boy was living before his father took him around December 1, 2017.

But the missing boy from Georgia, Abdul Ghani Wahhaj, was nowhere to be found. Authorities said there was reason to believe he was at the compound a "few weeks ago".

Deputies had to "physically" take Wahhaj down to place him in custody, and he and Morten, both from Georgia, were arrested and charged with child abduction and harboring a fugitive, respectively.

It was not immediately clear whether Morten or Wahhaj had attorneys.

"We are starving and need food and water", read the message.

CBS affiliate KRQE-TV reports that the malnourished children are in the custody of the state's Children, Youth and Families Department.

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A months-long search for a 3-year-old led police to a compound buried under New Mexico scrubland.

One of the men, Siraj Wahhaj, 39, was wanted in his home state of Georgia for questioning over the disappearance of his three-year-old son, Abdul.

The Taos County Sheriff's Office raided the compound after getting what they believed was a distress call from those at the residence saying they were starving.

The father told the boy's mother before fleeing Georgia that he wanted to perform an exorcism on the child, who he believed was possessed by the devil, according to documents made public in a court filing on Monday. It was unclear how or why they ended up in New Mexico, Hogrefe said.

The FBI and other local law enforcement agencies had been casing the residence, believed that both Siraj Wahhaj and Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj were there.

"We all gave the kids our water and what snacks we had - it was the saddest living conditions and poverty I have seen", said Sheriff Hogrefe.

Officers with the Taos County Sheriff's Department went on to find four handguns with numerous rounds of ammunition after removing the men from what was described as a "compound".

Pictured are (left to right) Lucas Morton, Siraj Wahhaj, Subhannah Wahhaj, Jany Leveille and Hujrah Wahhaj BELOW: The Taos County Sheriff's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation use shovels to search a compound north of Amalia and near the Colorado border Monday.

Police described the compound as a small underground caravan covered by plastic, with no running water or electricity.

The children looked like "Third-World country refugees" with no fresh water, no shoes, "and basically dirty rags" for clothing, according to the sheriff.

The grandfather of the missing boy, Imam Siraj Wahhaj of Brooklyn, New York, issued a plea on Facebook for helping finding his grandson.

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