After an armed standoff on Friday, eight members of the Taos County Sheriff's Office rescued 11 children living in a dilapidated makeshift compound in Amalia, New Mexico.
The children, between the ages of 1 and 15, are now in protective custody. 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. Armed with a search warrant, the officers found five adults, including Wahhaj, and 11 children at the compound. Wahhaj was armed and refused to comply with commands. He had to be "physically" taken down, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe told ABC News Radio, and was arrested, along with another man identified as Lucas Morten.
Hogrefe said the compound did not have any running water or electricity, and the kids "looked like third-world country refugees. I've been a cop for 30 years. I've never seen anything like this. Unbelievable. These children were hungry, they were thirsty, they were filthy." They had no shoes, wore "rags" for clothing, and exhibited poor hygiene, Hogrefe said. There were three women at the compound, believed to be the mothers of the children, and they were potentially "brainwashed" by the men, Hogrefe said. None of the adults would tell the officers anything about the missing toddler, and they are now investigating any connection the women might have to the abduction case, ABC News reports. Catherine Garcia