11 kids removed from New Mexico compound

11 kids removed from New Mexico compound

Officials in New Mexico say 11 children have been removed from a desert compound where they were living in "filthy" conditions with hardly any food. 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".

"I've been working this job for 30 years and I've never seen anything like this", Hogrefe said in the interview.

The boy and his father were reportedly last seen involved in a auto accident on I-65 in Alabama two-weeks after their disappearance. "These children were hungry, they were thirsty, they were filthy".

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.

Sherrod's report said the boy and his father were last seen December 13 traveling with two adults and five children in Alabama when they were involved in a single-vehicle accident on Interstate-65. Wahhaj was the focus of the Georgia investigation, having been accused of abducting his son, while the sheriff's office believes the property was Morten's.

Many more rounds of ammo were found in the makeshift compound that consists of a small travel trailer buried in the ground covered by plastic with no water, plumbing, or electricity.

Wahhaj and Morten initially did not follow police commands, and Wahhaj had a rifle and multiple handguns, but there were no injuries during the search.

The women were detained, but later released, and the sheriff says they wouldn't talk to investigators. Lucas Morten, also of Clayton County, was held on suspicion of harboring a fugitive, Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said in the statement. The three women were also briefly detained for questioning, but not criminally charged. Authorities continue to investigate the women's connection to the abduction case.

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Five adults were found at the scene, including two heavily armed men.

Both the women and the children are in custody of social services.

'We all gave the kids our water and what snacks we had, it was the saddest living conditions and poverty I have seen, ' Hogrefe said.

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

In mid-May Hogrefe was made aware the missing child and Wahhaj could be in New Mexico, the search warrant states.

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. "We also knew from the layout of the compound they would have an advantage if we didn't deploy tactfully and quickly", he elaborated. FBI investigators had reason to believe that Wahhaj was occupying the compound with Morten and others, but they didn't feel there was enough probable cause to obtain a search warrant.

The raid at the compound in the community of Amalia, southeast of Costilla and just a couple of miles from the Colorado border, came amid a two-month investigation in collaboration with Clayton County authorities and the FBI, Hogrefe said, adding that FBI agents had surveilled the area a few weeks ago but didn't find probable cause to search the property.

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