11 children found in ‘makeshift compound,’ placed into child services custody

U.S. & World

Eleven children have been taken into Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD) custody after law enforcement raided a compound and found them living in disturbing conditions. 

It started with an investigator out of the state of Georgia contacting the Taos County Sheriff’s Office in reference to a missing child believed to be somewhere in Taos County. 

Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe says he got word in May about 39-year-old Siraj Wahhaj, who was wanted for the abduction of his 3-year-old son out of Clayton County, Georgia.

After an extensive investigation, Friday morning, deputies and other agencies raided what the Sheriff calls a compound made of garbage and tires near Amalia, New Mexico.

Inside, they found Wahhaj along with a man named Lucas Morten, as well as three women and 11 children ages 1 to 15. 

He called the conditions of the compound “filthy”, saying the kids only had potatoes and a box of rice to live on. 

“We’re able to locate the compound through some residents that didn’t know the people, but described them as strange and to themselves,” says Sheriff Hogrefe.

The Sheriff says one of the women is pregnant and that the 11 children on the property were in very poor health.

The women were detained, but later released, and the Sheriff’s Office says they would not talk to investigators.

Both the women and the children are in CYFD custody. 

The missing child out of Georgia was not among the kids found.

Wahhaj is now being held without bond on a warrant out of Georgia for the child abduction. Morten was arrested for harboring a fugitive.

The Sheriff says it is possible they will face more charges. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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