us

What we know about the raid on a New Mexico compound

The search for a missing boy leads to 11 starving kids -- and a body

By Emanuella Grinberg

Published August 7, 2018

In May, the Taos County Sheriff's Office received information about Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, a missing boy believed to have been abducted by his father in Georgia in 2017.

A joint investigation sent authorities searching for a compound in New Mexico with no specific location. Then, a new site of interest emerged in Amalia, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said.

Authorities knew the compound existed, "but we had very little details about it," Hogrefe said.

The FBI helped surveil the site. The missing boy's family never identified him in photos, Hogrefe said.

Hogrefe said a turning point was a message from the compound that authorities received on Thursday, August 2: "We are starving and need food and water."

"For me, that was the breaking point where I thought we finally had enough probable cause to put in an affidavit for a search warrant."

Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe

Police executed the no-knock search warrant on Friday, August 3. They found 11 children "with no shoes, personal hygiene and basically dirty rags for clothing," Hogrefe said. But they could not find the missing boy.

Siraj Wahhaj, Abdul-Ghani's father, was one of five adults found at the site.

Lucas Morten was also taken into custody, along with three women believed to be the mothers of the 11 children. The five adults face child abuse charges.

Interviews with the adults led police to return to the site Monday. They found the remains of a young boy whose identity has yet to be confirmed.