They were discovered in a remote New Mexico compound where an underground trailer kept them hidden from the outside world.
A message pleading for food and water has led U.S. police to rescue 11 malnourished children held captive in New Mexico. Hogrefe described the compound as a small trailer buried into the ground covered in plastic and tires, in a rural part of the state. Three women, believed to be mothers of the children, were also briefly detained, Hogrefe said.
The Taos County Sheriff's Office brought in a special response team because they believed Wahhaj and another man, Lucas Morten, were heavily armed.
Two Georgia men are in custody after 11 children, ages 1-15, were removed from a makeshift residence after being found in repulsive conditions in New Mexico.
The alleged abductor, 39-year-old Siraj Wahhaj, was one of the two men arrested. The Sheriff's Office said it believes the child had been at the trailer a couple of weeks prior.
Deputies had to "physically" take Wahhaj down to place him in custody, the sheriff said.
"The only food we saw were a few potatoes and a box of rice", Hogrefe said after the police operation at the compound.
11 children ranging in age from 1 to 15 were found at the haggard compound, and are now in custody with the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department.
"We all gave the kids our water and what snacks we had - it was the saddest living conditions and poverty I have seen", the sheriff said. "These children were hungry, they were thirsty, they were filthy".
Police did not say how they tracked down Ibn Wahhaj and the others in Amalia, N.M., an unincorporated community in mountainous Taos County along New Mexico's northern border.
Police in Colorado fatally shot a man in his home after mistaking him for a burglar.
Wahhaj was booked on his warrant out of Clayton County. They continue to investigate the women's connection to the case.
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Adults and children were barefoot and wore "dirty rags" as clothing and had probably been living there for several months, Hogrefe said. "Each count is a third-degree felony".
It's not clear whether the boy and Siraj Wahhaj are related.
The Sheriff's Office named the three females as Jany Leveille (35), Hujrah Wahhaj (38), and Subhannah Wahhaj (35).
Sherry Jarrell, who lives on a 70-acre property not far from where the arrests were made Friday, said the area is attractive, but residents don't always know who their neighbors are.
Three women, believed to be the mothers of the children, were detained and later released.
He said Federal Bureau of Investigation agents had surveilled the area a few weeks ago but didn't find probable cause to search the property.
But the boy was not found where his father was arrested, which law enforcement officials described as a "compound" in Amalia, NM.
"Without some concrete evidence that this child is in fact there, we choose to do a surveillance from far, from a distant", the spokesman said.
The group appeared to have been living at the compound for a few months.
Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, who suffers from numerous medical conditions, was allegedly abducted by Siraj Ibn Wahhaj last December.
And because there were no custody issues with the father, no charges had been filed against Wahhaj, WGCL said.