Eleven children found at squalid New Mexico compound, two arrested

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Eleven children found at squalid New Mexico compound, two 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.

The investigation kicked off late last year on the opposite side of the country in Jonesboro, Georgia, where 39-year-old Siraj Wahhaj of the state's Clayton County was accused of kidnapping his toddler - who was ultimately not found.

Georgia investigators said Wahhaj "was to perform an exorcism on the child and deny him his prescribed medications", the warrant states.

Hogrefe said Wahhaj was armed with an AR15-style rifle and four loaded pistols when he was taken into custody. However, what they did find was even more hard for most people to fathom.

Siraj Wahhaj and Lucas Morton were served with the warrants while in custody at the Taos Adult Detention Center on earlier charges. Hogrefe said all of them looked like "refugees not only with no food or fresh water, but with no shoes, personal hygiene and basically dirty rags for clothing". Meanwhile, Morton was charged with harboring a fugitive.

They were discovered during a search for a three-year-old who was abducted in New Mexico, but still remains missing.

That changed late last week when Georgia detectives forwarded a message to the Taos County Sheriff's Office that initially had been sent to a third party, saying, "We are starving and need food and water", Hogrege said.

Neither family nor authorities could be reached over the weekend, so it's unclear how police tracked Ibn Wahhaj and company to Taos County - a mountainous, sparsely populated region along New Mexico's northern border.

Three unidentified women - possibly the mothers of the children - were detained for questioning before being released.

Hogrefe described the compound as "the saddest living conditions and poverty" he has seen in 30 years on the job.

A child-welfare agency took custody of the children, who ranged in age from 1 to 15.

Hogrefe said in an interview with The New Mexican late Saturday that the women would not speak with investigators to provide information about their relationships with the suspects or other details in the case.

"We will continue to work closely with law enforcement on this investigation", the statement reads.

Police found many more ammo rounds in the ramshackle hideout, they said, which they described as "a small travel trailer buried in the ground covered by plastic with no water, plumbing, or electricity".

But then, someone inside the compound was able to get a note to the outside world.

"Without some concrete evidence that this child is in fact there, we choose to do a surveillance from far, from a distant", the spokesman said. It was not immediately clear whether the child, whose name is AG Wahhaj, is related to Siraj Wahhaj, who was arrested in the raid. However, they did find 11 other children. He said none of the adults, even the women who are not being charged, would answer any questions about Abdul-Ghani, but they do believe he was there a few weeks ago. "We certainly didn't want to leave that place and leave a child behind and I'm confident we did not".

He added: "The only food we saw were a few potatoes and a box of rice in the filthy trailer".

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