11 'starving' children found on U.S. compound

Father arrested for abduction; son still missing

Lucas Morten and Siraj Wahhaj were both arrested after eight members of the Taos County Sheriff's Office converged on the home, described by police as a compound "surrounded by tires and an earthen berm" after securing a warrant to investigate the location of a missing 3-year-old kidnapped from Georgia.

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

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

Law enforcement raided a compound in northern New Mexico that led to 11 children being taken into CYFD custody.

It came, apparently, from someone inside a makeshift compound hidden in Taos County, New Mexico and made its way to the sheriff's office through someone else who received it and got it to law enforcement in Georgia.

Two armed men, Siraj Wahhaj and Lucas Morton, were arrested at the scene, and charged with several counts of child abuse.

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 search at the compound came amid a two-month investigation in collaboration with Clayton County authorities and the FBI, according to Mr Hogrefe.

Hogrefe said that Federal Bureau of Investigation agents had surveilled the compound a few weeks previous but did not at the time find probable cause to conduct a search.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj was detained on an outstanding warrant in Georgia alleging child abduction.

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This handout photo released by the Taos County Sheriff's Office on Aug 4, 2018 shows a view of a trailer at a makeshift compound.

The search for the young child began back in January, when Wahhaj's estranged wife, Hakima Ramzi, reportedly recorded a video on Facebook begging for help in finding her son.

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The officers went to the compound as part of the search to find a missing 3-year-old boy from Georgia, believed to have been kidnapped by his father, Siraj Wahhaj.

Alabama police said they were told the group were going camping in New Mexico, the station said.

The newspaper adds, "According to Clayton County police, the toddler and his father had last been seen December 13 traveling with two adults and five children in Alabama when they were involved in a single-vehicle accident on Interstate 65".

They were turned over to state child welfare workers for their own health and safety, police said.

Hogrefe said he thought it was enough to obtain a search warrant, form a multiagency tactical team and make entry onto the property.

Two adult men and three women were initially arrested after police raided the compound Thursday, but the women - believed to be the mothers of the children - were later released.

Police say the youngsters were so starved that they "looked like third world refugees, with basically dirty rags for clothing".

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