Federal prosecutors say the FBI has arrested five former residents of a ramshackle New Mexico compound where a 3-year-old Clayton County boy died. The five face firearms and conspiracy charges as local charges were dismissed.
The federal complaint charges Jany Leveille, a former Atlanta resident who is from Haiti, of being in possession of firearms and ammunition while in the country illegally. The other four members are charged with conspiring with Leveille.
Taos County District Attorney Donald Gallegos said Friday his office will now seek grand jury indictments involving the death of Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, who was buried last week in Atlanta, while his father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, was in a New Mexico jail. Authorities say Wahhaj and Leveille travelled from their homes in the Atlanta area late last year to the desert, where they allegedly were training their children to commit terror attacks.
Defense attorneys have said the suspects were misunderstood and being cast in a negative light because they’re black and Muslim.
Wahhaj and Leveille had been the only two of the five suspects who remained in jail Friday before the FBI arrested all of them.
Earlier this week, two judges said they had no choice but to dismiss charges and free three defendants after the district attorney’s office missed a 10-day deadline to show probable cause of a crime at a required court hearing, which was never requested.
“I don’t know whether they are overworked, if they don’t have enough people at their office. I don’t see a district attorney here,” Jeff McElroy, chief judge for the state district court, said in a courtroom Wednesday. “It is disturbing to me that the district attorney would put this court in that kind of a situation where we must comply with the rule, and we must dismiss this.”
Gallegos said seeking indictments will allow more time to gather evidence.
Prosecutors have alleged that Leveille and Wahhaj failed to give the child medicine he took for ailments including seizures and instead performed rituals to rid him of evil spirits.
All five people will remain in custody pending a Tuesday hearing in federal court.
The other three suspects are Wahhaj’s sister, Hujrah and Subhannah Wahhaj, and Subhannah Wahhaj’s husband, Lucas Morton. Leveille and Siraj Ibn Wahhaj are Islamic partners. When the man took his son from Atlanta in late November, his legal wife, Hakima Ramzi, contacted authorities, police have said.
He later wrote to her saying he wanted a divorce. Ramzi,who was still in Georgia, pleaded on Facebook for information on the boy’s whereabouts.
He wasn’t found until earlier this month, after Subhannah Wahhaj sent a note to a family friend in Atlanta asking for help getting food, but the friend forwarded the information to authorities. The compound was raided on Aug. 3, and 11 children were taken into New Mexico state custody.
Abdul-Ghani’s body was found Aug. 6, which should’ve been his fourth birthday.