Mothers of 11 Kids Found at 'Filthy' New Mexico Compound Are Arrested

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

Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe told CNN that investigators looking for the boy went back to the Amalia compound because they believed they knew roughly where to search.

Authorities swarmed the remote property in Amalia last week after securing a warrant to search for a missing 3-year-old boy who police believed was kidnapped by his father, 39-year-old Siraj Wahhaj.

Siraj Wahhaj has been wanted since December after Ramzi told police in Clayton, Georgia, that he took their son and went west.

The search stemmed from an investigation involving the Taos County Sheriff's Office, the FBI and Clayton County, Georgia, authorities, Hogrefe said in a statement. However, there was no sign of Abdul.

So on Friday, the Taos County Sheriff's Office and state authorities executed a search warrant on the compound.

A defense attorney said criminal complaints accusing five adults of child abuse are sparse in detail, leading to uncertainty about how much investigative work has been done.

Nine months after young Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj disappeared from Georgia, his family's worst nightmare may be realized in New Mexico.

Authorities said at a news conference that they have not positively identified the remains as missing Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj.

Property owner Jason Badger said he and his wife had pressed authorities to remove the group from the makeshift compound on his land.

He said Federal Bureau of Investigation agents conducted surveillance of the area a few weeks ago but did not find probable cause to search the property.

The shelter was covered by plastic, the sheriff's office said.

However, Wahhaj himself was not found at the compound.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj is reportedly the son of Siraj Wahhaj, a prominent imam at the Masjid At-Taqwa mosque in Brooklyn, N.Y., who has posted on social media about worries over the missing boy and other family members.

Three women who are believed to be the mothers of the children - Jany Leveille, 35, Huraj Wahhaj, 38, and Subhannah Wahhaj, 35 - were originally not charged, in hopes that they would cooperate with CYFD investigators, according to the new affidavit. She told police the father believed the boy was "possessed" and wanted to perform an "exorcism" on him.

"But what was most surprising and heartbreaking was when the team located a total of five adults and 11 children that looked like third-world country refugees not only with no food or fresh water, but with no shoes, personal hygiene and basically dirty rags for clothing".

The message was to the point: "We are starving and need food and water", it said in part. The police in both jurisdictions were made away of the texts from the unidentified person on Thursday leading to search warrants for the property to be obtained by the Taos County Sheriff's Office.

Morton was taken into custody on suspicion of harboring a fugitive.

It wasn't clear who sent the message or how it was communicated.

But at the time, the group told Alabama police they were headed to New Mexico for camping, and continued on their way.

Three women living at the compound were initially taken into custody but released.

Tyler Anderson said he had helped the newcomers install solar panels after they arrived in December, but he eventually stopped visiting. They were arrested in the town of Taos and detained. It was unclear how or why they ended up in New Mexico, Hogrefe said.

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

Badger said Tuesday that he had concerns about the compound, but that the courts and other authorities shot down his attempts to break up the encampment - described as a trailer buried in the ground.

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