Tip leads to discovery of 11 starving kids in New Mexico trailer

06 August, 2018, 23:39 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • Siraj Wahhaj was jailed on a Georgia warrant alleging child abduction

The little boy has not been found.

A group of 11 children aged between one year old and 15 years have been rescued from a dilapidated compound where they were being held by armed men.

They were discovered in a remote New Mexico compound where an underground trailer kept them hidden from the outside world. Wahhaj was booked with no bond because of a warrant related to his missing son, while Morten was charged with harboring a fugitive.

Siraj Wahhaj and Lucas Morton were served with the warrants while in custody at the Taos Adult Detention Center on earlier charges.

None of the adults detained would give any information on the child.

But reports from law enforcement hint at something amiss at the compound.

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.

According to Clayton County Police, the toddler suffers from seizures, developmental and cognitive delays and is unable to walk due to suffering Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) at birth.

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'I need my son back to me and then I will leave you alone, ' she said.

Five adults - two men and three women - were accompanying the children.

Both Sarij Wahhaj and Morten originally refused to follow verbal commands from the tactical squad but were both taken into custody.

"They were skinny, their ribs showed, they were in very poor hygiene and very scared", Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe told ABC News Radio.

Authorities were tipped off to the scene in Amalia, near the Colorado border, after someone forwarded a message believed to be from a third party.

After hearing the message, Hogrefe decided the Sheriff's Office couldn't wait on the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other law enforcement agency; he wanted to move on the compound as soon as possible.

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". "We also knew from the layout of the compound they would have an advantage if we didn't deploy tactfully and quickly", he elaborated.

Eight members of the TCSO's Sheriff's Response Team and four members of the State OSI unit were involved in executing the search warrant on the compound Friday, Hogrefe said.

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"We didn't have to go hands-on and no one got hurt", Hogrefe said.

Police anxious that the raid would end violently because of the fact he was so heavily armed.

One of the men was Siraj Wahhaj, who is accused of kidnapping his toddler from Jonesboro, Georgia.

While the missing 3-year-old boy was not found, police believe he may have been there recently.

There were no injuries during the search, the sheriff said. "We certainly didn't want to leave that place and leave a child behind and I'm confident we did not".

The children, between the ages of 1 and 15, are now in protective custody.

Aside from a few potatoes and a box of rice, there was no food or water in the filthy compound, which authorities described as a travel trailer buried in the dirt, ringed with tires and earthen berms and covered in plastic.

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