Moms of 11 children found at filthy New Mexico compound arrested

Monday, 06 Aug, 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.

Authorities have arrested Wahhaj, another man, and three women believed to be the mothers of 11 children found living in filth in a makeshift compound in New Mexico.

On Thursday, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe approved a search warrant for the compound because he believed that a child abduction suspect and the abducted child were at the makeshift residence.

Wahhaj had been wanted for child abduction.

The rescue followed a police operation which began late a year ago to find an abducted three-year-old child - who was not among the children found at the property.

In December 2017, the Clayton News Daily reported that Abdul-Ghani and his father had last been seen traveling west through Alabama with several other children and adults. I've never seen anything like this.

"The "all day" operation went without major incident or any injuries, but when encountered both men initially refused to follow verbal direction and Wahhaj who was held up inside the compound was heavily armed with an AR15 rifle, five loaded 30 round magazines, and four loaded pistols, including one in his pocket when he was taken down", Hogrefe said.

Two have been arrested after the children were discovered in what have been described as 'the saddest living conditions and poverty I have seen'.

Siraj Wahhaj and Lucas Morton were served with the warrants while in custody at the Taos Adult Detention Center on earlier charges. The women and children seemed to be very "intimidated" by the men and were potentially "brainwashed", the sheriff said. Then Hogrefe's office received a message, thought to have come from someone inside, which read "we are starving and need food and water", via an unidentified third party.

The message was to the point: "We are starving and need food and water", it said in part.

A CYFD spokeswoman could not answer any specific questions about the remaining children due to the ongoing investigation, but cabinet secretary Monique Jacobson issued a statement saying the department has been working around the clock on the case. They were arrested in the town of Taos and booked into jail.

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

The child was not among those found in Amalia but he is believed to have been in the compound in recent weeks.

The Taos County sheriff identified the women facing charges as Jany Leveille, 38-year-old Hujrah Wahhaj and 35-year-old Subhannah Wahha.

Siraj Wahhaj, 39, of the state's Clayton County was accused of kidnapping his toddler, who was ultimately not found.

And two men, including the missing boy's father, were found armed to the hilt with a cache of weapons and ammo, the Taos County Sheriff's Office said.

She told authorities that she hadn't seen her son since December 1 when her father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, said he was taking him to the park. The Alabama officer who talked to the group after the accident said they "indicated that they were traveling to New Mexico for a camping trip".