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11 children found in 'makeshift compound' in New Mexico

AMALIA, New Mexico (KRQE) - Law enforcement raided a disgusting compound in Northern New Mexico that led to 11 children being taken into Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) custody.

"Two males from Georgia have been arrested after Taos County Sheriff's Office served a search warrant at their makeshift residence," says Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe.

Sheriff Hogrefe says the compound was filthy, surrounded by tires, and barricaded by walls.

"Siraj Wahhaj, 39-years old, had been identified as possibly living there, or probably living there," he says.

Wahhaj was wanted out of Clayton County, Georgia for the abduction of his 3-year old son, Abdul Wahhaj.

Georgia law enforcement told deputies they believed both son and father were somewhere in Taos County.

After investigating, multiple agencies raided the compound Friday morning. Wahhaj was there, but they didn't find the little boy. However, they did find 11 other children.

"Their ages were 1-15 years old. All the children were taken into protective custody based on the fact that they essentially had no clothing, no shoes, no water, no electricity, and no food," says Sheriff Hogrefe.

On top of that, deputies say three women, one of them pregnant, were also on the property, along with Lucas Morten.

"Lucas Morten. We believe he is the primary person that's obligating or living at this place," says Sheriff Hogrefe.

The sheriff says they have reason to believe the three women are the mothers of the 11 children. The only food found on the disgusting compound were potatoes and a box of rice.

"It was very apparent that the conditions themselves dictated taking the children into protective custody and getting the state, CYFD, involved," says Sheriff Hogrefe.

The women were detained, but later released, and the sheriff says they wouldn't talk to investigators. The women are now also in CYFD custody with their children.

Wahhaj is now being held without bond on a warrant out of Georgia for the child abduction charge. He will be extradited back to Clayton County.

Morten was arrested for harboring a fugitive. The sheriff says it's possible they will face more charges.


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