11 emaciated children are rescued from a filthy and heavily armed compound

11 emaciated children are rescued from a filthy and heavily armed compound

11 emaciated children are rescued from a filthy and heavily armed compound

They were removed from the compound and turned over to state child-welfare workers.

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. However, the boy was not at the compound when police executed a search warrant there.

No one was injured in the operation, the sheriff's office said.

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

The children, ages 1 to 15, looked like "third-world country refugees" and had only "dirty rags for clothing", Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said.

While the boy was not among the children the state Children, Youth and Families Department took into protective custody on Friday, law enforcement officials arrested the child's father, Wahhaj, 40, accusing him of abducting the toddler.

What authorities found was what Hogrefe called "the saddest living conditions and poverty" he has seen in 30 years on the job.

The officer added that the women and children "were brainwashed and feel great intimidation from the men that were in control of this facility".

Two men were arrested during the search.

Wahhaj was booked on his warrant out of Clayton County. They were released pending further investigation.

According to Clayton County police, the toddler and his father were seen December 13 traveling with two adults and five children in Alabama, when they were involved in a single-vehicle accident on Interstate 65. "Each count is a third-degree felony". Lucas Morten was jailed on suspicion of harboring a fugitive, Hogrefe said.

It was not immediately clear if the two suspects, who are both from Clayton County, Georgia, had retained criminal defence attorneys. They have not yet made their first appearances in court. Also charged are three women, believed to be the children's mothers: Jany Leveille, Hujrah Wahhaj and Subhannah Wahhaj.

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.

He said Federal Bureau of Investigation agents had surveilled the area a few weeks ago but did not find probable cause to search the property. On Monday, the boy's fourth birthday, investigators were scrambling to find him - and to understand what happened at the New Mexico compound.

The sheriff described planning "a tactical approach for our own safety because we had learned the occupants were most likely heavily armed".

And two men, including the missing boy's father, were found armed to the hilt with a cache of weapons and ammo, the Taos County Sheriff's Office said. None of the adults would give a statement about the whereabouts of the missing 3-year-old.

The Taos News reports that a toddler who shares the same surname as Wahhaj, which authorities had been searching for, was not among those rescued in the raid.

No criminal charges were filed as there was no custody issue, WGCL-TV said.

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