11 children, 3 women found in 'filthy' compound, 2 men arrested

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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.

The boy's mother told police her child, who she said suffered from seizures along with developmental and cognitive delays, went to the park with his father Wahhaj last December and never returned.

Instead, deputies found five adults and 11 other children who "looked like third-world country refugees", living in squalor with little food and no clean water, according to Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe.

Even though young Abdul was reported missing, there was no child abduction warrant against Wahhaj because he was married to his son's mother - meaning they both had equal custody of the boy, Clayton County police said.

The missing 3-year-old boy from Georgia was not among the 11 children found at the compound.

The alleged abductor, 39-year-old Siraj Wahhaj, was one of the two men arrested.

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents had surveilled the compound for several weeks leading up to last week's raid, but did not find probable cause to conduct a search.

The arrests were part of the operation connected to a months-long search for an abducted three-year-old, according to New Mexico's Taos County sheriff's office.

The sheriff called it "the saddest living conditions and poverty I have seen". His brother-in-law Lucas Morton (right) was also charged with harboring a fugitive.

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"We did an extensive search for the missing child, our primary target", Hogrefe said.

Police had been looking for a toddler missing from the USA state of Georgia when they received a message through an investigator which warned that those in the compound were "starving and need food and water".

A CYFD spokeswoman could not answer any specific questions about the remaining children due to the ongoing investigation, but cabinet secretary Monique Jacobson issued a statement saying the department has been working around the clock on the case.

Siraj Wahhaj and Jany Leveille are also said to be married. "All were arrested without incident in Taos and were later booked in the Taos Adult Detention Center", it said. Reached by phone in NY, another relative Sadiqa A. Wahhaj, confirmed the little boy who is still missing is her nephew.

The only food found on the compound was a box of rice and some potatoes.

The boy's father was among five people arrested after the raid near the border with Colorado, and documents made public in a court filing Monday said the father told the boy's mother before fleeing Georgia that he wanted to perform an exorcism on the child because he believed he was possessed by the devil.

None of the adults would give a statement as to the boy's whereabouts, Hogrefe said after the raid, but "it was reasonably believed he was there a few weeks ago".

Georgia authorities said Wahhaj was traveling through Chilton County Dec. 13 with seven children and another adult when their auto overturned. The officer who helped them had been under the impression that the group was headed to New Mexico for a camping trip.

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