FBI arrests five New Mexico compound suspects days after multiple charges were dropped
The FBI announced Friday that it had arrested all five New Mexico compound suspects, days after multiple charges were dropped. The suspects were now being charged with violating federal firearms and conspiracy laws.
The announcement comes after local prosecutors dropped charges in the death of a 3-year-old boy at the compound site. Taos County District Attorney Donald Gallegos said Friday his office would now seek grand jury indictments involving the death. Gallegos said seeking indictments would allow more time to gather evidence.
"The defendants, Jany Leveille, 35, a Haitian national illegally present in the United States, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40, Hujrah Wahhaj, 37, Subhanah Wahhaj, 35, and Lucas Morton, 40, are charged in a criminal complaint that was filed earlier today in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico," the bureau said in a statement.
"The criminal complaint charges Jany Leveille with being an alien unlawfully in possession of firearms and ammunition in the District of New Mexico from Nov. 2017 through Aug. 2018," the bureau said. "The criminal complaint charges the other four defendants with aiding and abetting Leveille in committing the offense, and with conspiring with Leveille to commit the offense."
On Wednesday, three of the suspects were released from custody, just hours after a judge dismissed all of the charges against them.
District Judge Emilio Chavez on Wednesday dismissed charges against Lucas Morton, Subhannah Wahhaj and Hujrah Wahhaj, ruling that authorities violated the state’s “10-day rule.”
Child abuse charges against them were dropped because prosecutors missed the 10-day limit for an evidentiary hearing to establish probable cause.
During a separate hearing Wednesday, Judge Jeff McElroy dismissed the same charges against fellow defendants, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Jany Leveille.
3 ‘EXTREMIST MUSLIM’ NEW MEXICO COMPOUND SUSPECTS RELEASED AFTER JUDGE DROPS ALL CHARGES
The five suspects were arrested by authorities after an Aug. 3 raid following a monthslong inquiry into the disappearance of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, 3. The boy, who had severe medical issues, disappeared from Georgia in December. The occupants of the compound were "most likely heavily armed and considered extremist of the Muslim belief," an official said at the time.
Taos County Sheriff's deputies discovered 11 children at the compound, who were taken into the custody of state child welfare workers. On Aug. 6, a child’s remains were found on the property.
Siraj Ibn Wahhaj was allegedly training children to commit school shootings, according to prosecutors, who later alleged that the juveniles were taught how to use firearms, as well as tactical techniques, in order to kill teachers, law enforcement and other institutions they found corrupt.
Health officials confirmed earlier this month that the discovered remains were positively identified as the 3-year-old's.
The FBI said they arrested all five suspects without incident on Friday afternoon in Taos.
Leveille faces a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years of imprisonment and deportation upon completion of her sentence if convicted, according to the bureau.
If convicted of aiding and abetting Leveille, Leveille’s co-defendants could each face a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years of imprisonment. If convicted on the conspiracy charge, meanwhile, the five could each face a statutory penalty of five years' imprisonment.
All five defendants are scheduled to appear in federal court in Albuquerque on Sept. 4