The FBI has arrested the five adults who were living at a New Mexico compound where a boy was found dead, accusing them of breaking firearms and conspiracy laws, authorities said Friday.
Jany Leveille, 35, is accused of being in the United States illegally and is alleged to have had firearms and ammunition, a statement from the US Attorney and FBI said.
Four other people — Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40; Hujrah Wahhaj, 37; Subhannah Wahhaj, 35; and Lucas Morton, 40 — have been charged with aiding and abetting Leveille, and with conspiring with her.
A criminal complaint says FBI agents seized at least 11 firearms — pistols, revolvers, a shotgun and rifles — and a large quantity of ammunition at the compound in Amalia. The document alleges the firearms were transported to New Mexico from another state in Leveille’s vehicle.
The complaint said Leveille came to the United States from Haiti on a six-month, nonimmigrant visa in 1998. She received no more visas, the complaint says.
In May 2017 she applied for permanent residency. Her application was denied in June, the document says.
The FBI arrested the defendants without incident in Taos on Friday afternoon, the statement said. They will appear in court in Albuquerque on Tuesday.
Leveille could face a sentence of up to 10 years, if she is convicted on the firearms charge.
Thomas Clark and Kelly Golightley, attorneys who had been representing Siraj Wahhaj and Leveille, respectively, could not be reached for comment Friday.
Earlier this month, Clark argued that the defendants were being singled out because they were black Muslims. “If these were white people of a Christian faith who owned guns, that’s not a big deal because there’s a Second Amendment right to own firearms in this country,” he said at a hearing on August 13.
State charges dropped, for now
Also Friday, the Taos County District Attorney announced the remaining state charges against Leveille and Siraj Wahhaj had been dropped so prosecutors can prepare a better case to present to a grand jury September 27.
“We plan to take the cases against all five defendants to grand jury,” District Attorney Donald Gallegos said. “It is also possible, in reviewing the evidence still coming in, the charges could be altered, reduced or increased. Right now it is too early to tell.”
Earlier this week a judge dismissed child abuse counts against the defendants because the prosecution missed a 10-day window to formally charge them.
But Leveille and Siraj Wahhaj were also accused of one count each of intentional abuse of a child resulting in death and conspiracy to commit intentional abuse of a child resulting in death (child under 12).
They were arraigned Wednesday on those counts and the court entered not-guilty pleas on each defendant’s behalf.
Other children were starving, authorities say
Police raided the ramshackle compound August 3, hoping to find 3-year-old Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj. His mother in Georgia said the boy had been missing for more than eight months. Days later searchers found his remains.
Authorities say they discovered the adults living in squalor with 11 starving children.