Man tried to oust adults from site where kids found in filth

AMALIA, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico man said Tuesday he and his wife had pressed authorities to remove a group of people from a makeshift compound on his land where officials reported finding 11 hungry children living in filth.

However, it took a plea for help and the search for a missing Georgia boy to finally draw sheriff's deputies to the desolate site that was walled off by stacks of old tires, wooden pallets and other debris.

Property owner Jason Badger said he had concerns about the compound near the Colorado border. But he says the courts and other authorities shot down his attempts to break up the encampment — described as a trailer buried in the ground in Amalia, just south of the New Mexico-Colorado line. .

Court records show a judge dismissed an eviction notice filed by Badger against Lucas Morton in June. The records didn't provide further details on the judge's decision.

Morton was among five adults arrested after the Taos County sheriff raided the compound in search of the missing Georgia boy who was not found. Authorities haven't released many details about their search for him.

The five adults, including the boy's father, have been charged with child abuse. A hearing was expected later Tuesday.

Children ages 1 to 15 were rescued Friday from the compound that had been under investigation for months.

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An aerial view of a compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken into protective custody for their own health and safety after a raid by authorities, is shown in this photo near Amalia, New Mexico, U.S., provided August 6, 2018. Taos County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
Conditions at a compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken into protective custody for their own health and safety after a raid by authorities, are shown in this photo near Amalia, New Mexico, U.S., provided August 6, 2018. Taos County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
This undated posted provided by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children shows Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, left, and his father Siraj Wahhaj, who police are seeking the public's in finding. Police reports show that the Georgia boy missing after authorities raided a New Mexico compound over the weekend was last seen in Alabama in December. The boy's mother told police he left with his father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, for a trip to a park and never returned. (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children via AP)
A view of the compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken in protective custody after a raid by authorities near Amalia, New Mexico, August 10, 2018. Photo taken August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Hay
Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, arrested in connection with a raid by authorities on a squalid compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken into protective custody for their own health and safety, is shown in this booking photo, in Amalia, New Mexico, U.S., provided August 6, 2018. Taos County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
This Aug. 5, 2018 photo shows debris outside the location where people camped near Amalia, N.M. Three women believed to be the mothers of 11 children found hungry and living in a filthy makeshift compound in rural northern New Mexico have been arrested, following the weekend arrests of two men, authorities said Monday, Aug. 6. (Jesse Moya/The Taos News via AP)
Personal articles are shown at the compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken in protective custody after a raid by authorities near Amalia, New Mexico, August 10, 2018. Photo taken August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Hay
Lucas Morten, arrested in connection with a raid by authorities on a squalid compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken into protective custody for their own health and safety, is shown in this booking photo, near Amalia, New Mexico, U.S., provided August 6, 2018. Taos County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
Personal articles are shown at the compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken in protective custody after a raid by authorities near Amalia, New Mexico, August 10, 2018. Photo taken August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Hay
Personal articles are shown at the compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken in protective custody after a raid by authorities near Amalia, New Mexico, August 10, 2018. Photo taken August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Hay

This combination photo provided by the Taos County Sheriff's Department shows Subhannah Wahhaj, from left, Jany Leveille and Hujrah Wahhaj. Three women believed to be the mothers of 11 children found hungry and living in a filthy makeshift compound in rural northern New Mexico, have been arrested, following the weekend arrests of two men, authorities said Monday, Aug. 6. (Taos County Sheriff's Department via AP)

This Aug. 5, 2018 photo shows a "no trespassing" sign outside the location where people camped near Amalia, N.M. Three women believed to be the mothers of 11 children found hungry and living in a filthy makeshift compound in rural northern New Mexico have been arrested, following the weekend arrests of two men, authorities said Monday, Aug. 6. (Jesse Moya/The Taos News via AP)
Personal articles are shown at the compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken in protective custody after a raid by authorities near Amalia, New Mexico, August 10, 2018. Photo taken August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Hay
A view of the compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken in protective custody after a raid by authorities near Amalia, New Mexico, August 10, 2018. Photo taken August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Hay

This photo provided by the Taos County Sheriff's Department shows Hujrah Wahhaj. Wahhaj and a few other women, believed to be the mothers of 11 children found hungry and living in a filthy makeshift compound in rural northern New Mexico, have been arrested, following the weekend arrests of two men, authorities said Monday, Aug. 6. (Taos County Sheriff via AP)

Cooking items are shown at the compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken in protective custody after a raid by authorities near Amalia, New Mexico, August 10, 2018. Photo taken August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Hay
FILE - This Aug. 3, 2018, file photo released by Taos County Sheriff's Office shows a rural compound during an unsuccessful search for a missing boy in Amalia, N.M. Three women believed to be the mothers of 11 children found hungry and living in a filthy makeshift compound in rural northern New Mexico have been arrested, following the weekend arrests of two men, authorities said Monday, Aug. 6. The boy last seen in Alabama in December traveling with one of the men who was arrested has not been found. (Taos County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)
This photo provided by the Taos County Sheriff's Department shows Subhannah Wahhaj. Wahhaj and a few other women, believed to be the mothers of 11 children found hungry and living in a filthy makeshift compound in rural northern New Mexico, have been arrested, following the weekend arrests of two men, authorities said Monday, Aug. 6. (Taos County Sheriff via AP)
This photo provided by the Taos County Sheriff's Department shows Jany Leveille. Leveille and a few other women, believed to be the mothers of 11 children found hungry and living in a filthy makeshift compound in rural northern New Mexico, have been arrested, following the weekend arrests of two men, authorities said Monday, Aug. 6. (Taos County Sheriff via AP)
Personal articles are shown at the compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken in protective custody after a raid by authorities near Amalia, New Mexico, August 10, 2018. Photo taken August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Hay
A view of the compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken in protective custody after a raid by authorities near Amalia, New Mexico, August 10, 2018. Photo taken August 10, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Hay
Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, center, confers with one of his attorneys at a first appearance in New Mexico district court in Taos, N.M., on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018, on accusations of child abuse and abducting his son from the boy's mother. Authorities were waiting to learn if human remains found at a disheveled living compound were those of Wahhaj's missing son. Authorities also allege Wahhaj was conducting weapons training with assault rifles at the compound near the Colorado border where they say they found 11 hungry children living in filthy conditions in a raid Friday. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)
Various items litter a squalid makeshift living compound in Amalia, N.M., on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, where five adults were arrested on child abuse charges and remains of a boy were found. The remains, which haven't been positively identified, may resolve the fate of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, a missing, severely disabled Georgia boy. Eleven other children were found at the compound during a raid last week. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)
Various items litter the kitchen of a makeshift living compound in Amalia, N.M., on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, where five adults were arrested on child abuse charges and remains of a boy were found. The remains, which haven't been positively identified, may resolve the fate of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, a missing, severely disabled Georgia boy. Eleven other children were found at the compound during a raid last week. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)
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Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said the boy's father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, was among the five adults arrested,

Authorities staged a raid after someone believed to have been in the compound sent out a message for help that said: "We are starving and need food and water."

It wasn't clear who sent the message or how it was communicated. Georgia detectives forwarded the message to the Taos County Sheriff's Office.

Wahhaj was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday on a warrant from Georgia that seeks his extradition to face a charge of abducting his son, Abdul-ghani, from that state last December.

According to the extradition warrant, Wahhaj told the boy's mother that he wanted to perform an exorcism on the child, who suffered from seizures, because he believed the 3-year-old was possessed by the devil. The mother told police that Wahhaj took the boy for a trip to a park and never returned.

Abdul-ghani was believed to have been at the Amalia compound as recently as several weeks ago, Hogrefe said.

The warrant said the boy suffered from severe medical issues including hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, a defect caused by lack of oxygen and blood flow around the time of birth.

The boy's mother said the boy can't walk and requires constant attention.

Wahhaj was armed with several guns, including a loaded AR-15 assault rifle, when he was taken into custody without incident at the compound, the sheriff said.

Morton was taken into custody on suspicion of harboring a fugitive.

The women, believed to be mothers of some of the children, have been identified as 35-year-old Jany Leveille, 38-year-old Hujrah Wahhaj, and 35-year-old Subhannah Wahhaj.

Jail booking photos show them wearing traditional Muslim veils or hijabs. It wasn't clear whether they had retained attorneys.

The public defender's office in Taos County did not immediately return a telephone message from The Associated Press seeking comment Monday.

The sheriff said FBI agents surveilled the area a few weeks ago but did not find probable cause to search the property.

An FBI spokesman didn't immediately return a call by The Associated Press seeking comment.

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AP writers Mary Hudetz in Albuquerque and Kate Brumback in Jonesboro, Georgia, contributed to this report.

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