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11 kids removed from New Mexico compound

06 August 2018

The FBI and Clayton County, Georgia investigators reportedly had been conducting surveillance on the compound near Amalia for two months, believing a Georgia man wanted on child abduction charges was holed up there.

Taos County Sheriff's officials said the youngsters, ranging in age from one to 15, were removed from the compound in the small community of Amalia, 145 miles (233km) north-east of Albuquerque and in an isolated high-desert area near the New Mexico-Colorado border.

The three women have since been released from law enforcement custody pending further investigation.

The mom of 3-year-old Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj reported the child missing to Clayton County police on December 7, 2017, telling authorities she last saw her son when he left with his father to go to the park on December 1, 2017.

Police said the adults declined to give statements about the missing child, but he is believed to have been at the compound as recently as a few weeks ago.

"The only food we saw were a few potatoes and a box of rice in the filthy trailer", said Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe. Authorities continue to investigate the women's connection to the abduction case. The officer who helped them had been under the impression that they were headed to New Mexico to go camping.

Hogrefe issued the warrants after he received a message from a Georgia detective that came from inside the compound through a third party that said, "We are starving and need food and water".

In this "compound", the sheriff said, Ibn Wahhaj literally lived underground with his abducted son, an accused accomplice named Lucas Morten, three unnamed women, 11 other children, four pistols, an AR-15 rifle and a large quantity of ammunition.

On Dec. 10, 2017, in Clayton County, Ga., a woman reported Wahhaj had taken their young son Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj to the park nine days earlier and she had not seen them since, according to the Clayton County Police Department.

The adults and children appeared like "refugees not only with no food or fresh water, but with no shoes, personal hygiene and basically dirty rags for clothing", the sheriff said.

In executing the search warrant, a tactical approach was established due the belief that the suspects were heavily armed and considered "extremist of the Muslim belief". However, what they did find was even more hard for most people to fathom. He will be extradited back to Clayton County.

Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said the search of the Amalia dwelling, which is just a few minutes south of the Colorado border, was the result of a two-month investigation conducted with the FBI and Clayton County Police Department into the whereabouts of the boy, who turns 4 on August 6.

Wahhaj remained holed up inside a small, rickety trailer that was partially buried in the ground and covered with white plastic tarps.

Both were eventually taken into custody without incident.

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

11 kids removed from New Mexico compound