Published: Mon, August 06, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Moms of 11 children found at New Mexico compound arrested

Moms of 11 children found at New Mexico compound arrested

Taos County, New Mexico, Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said that the women and the two men face charges of child abuse.

The children were given over to the New Mexico Children Youth and Families Department, police said. Three women, believed to be the children's mothers, were detained and later released.

He says there was little food in the compound, which consisted of a small travel trailer buried in the ground and covered by plastic with no water, plumbing or electricity.

Even though young Abdul was reported missing, there was no child abduction warrant against Wahhaj because he was married to his son's mother - meaning they both had equal custody of the boy, Clayton County police said. Clayton County Police and FBI investigators are continuing their search for the child.

The Taos County Sheriff's Office brought in a special response team because they believed Wahhaj and another man, Lucas Morten, were heavily armed. I've never seen anything like this. But Wahhaj and Morten initially refused to follow commands and Wahhaj was armed with a rifle and four handguns, Hogrefe said.

The Sheriff said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had "recently provided information and surveillance on this location, but they (FBI) didn't feel there was enough probable cause to get on the property". The Sheriff's Office said it believes the child had been at the trailer a couple of weeks prior. The warrant could not be obtained until it was eventually sparked by a note sent from inside the compound, which ultimately reached a Georgia detective reading "We are starving and need food and water".

The compound was searched after officers watching the property received a message that said: "We are starving and need food and water".

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Mr Hogrefe told ABC it appeared the women and children "were brainwashed and feel great intimidation from the men that were in control of this facility".

Police say the child was reported missing in Clayton County south of Atlanta on December 10. "All were arrested without incident in Taos and were later booked in the Taos Adult Detention Center", it said.

The only food law enforcement saw for the sixteen people living there were a few potatoes and a box of rice.

One posted Jan 4. reads, "Dear Brothers and Sisters, please make duas for the safe return of my children and grandchildren; Siraj, Hujrah, Subhanah Wahhaj, son in law Luqman (Lucas) Morton, and daughter in law Maryam (Jany) Leveille and their children (my 12 grandchildren)".

Georgia authorities said Wahhaj was traveling through Chilton County Dec. 13 with seven children and another adult when their vehicle overturned.

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. "I don't know his condition", said Hakima Ramzi in a tearful Facebook Live video in January pleading for the return of her son who she said had physical and mental disabilities. None of the adults would give a statement about the whereabouts of the missing 3-year-old. The group told police they were headed to New Mexico to go camping, and continued on their way.

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