NEWS
01/09/2018 08:05 BST

New Mexico Compound Group Arrested By FBI For Violating Firearms And Conspiracy Laws

The charges come after a judge received death threats for granting them bail.

Andrew Hay / Reuters
A view of the New Mexico compound where the five accused were first arrested and 11 children were discovered

Five residents of a New Mexico compound accused of planning anti-government attacks have been arrested by the FBI for violating firearms and conspiracy laws.

Jany Leveille, 35, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40, Hujrah Wahhaj, 37, Subhanah Wahhaj, 35 and Lucas Morton, 40, were charged in criminal complaints filed in US District Court in New Mexico, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement on Friday. 

The arrests and charges came two days after judges dismissed child abuse charges against the five defendants on procedural grounds and allowed three to be released from jail in Taos. They also come weeks after a judge received death threats for granting them bail.

The FBI said it arrested the defendants “without incident” in Taos.

Marie Legrand Miller, defense attorney for Hujrah Wahhaj, called the arrests “a very quick and peaceful turn-in”.

Tom Clark, Ibn Wahhaj’s lawyer, said the arrests were not a huge surprise as the FBI had been “involved from the beginning”.

The five defendants came under FBI surveillance in May at their remote settlement north of Taos after Leveille sent a letter to Ibn Wahhaj’s brother asking him to join them and become a “martyr,” state prosecutors said earlier this month. 

The group were first arrested following an August 3 raid by the sheriff that found a cache of firearms and 11 children with no food or clean water, according to charges.

Three days later police found the body of Ibn-Wahhaj’s missing 3-year-old son in a tunnel at the compound.

Handout . / Reuters
Siraj Ibn Wahhaj

State prosecutors accused the five of training two of their teenage boys for attacks on “corrupt institutions.” The five have yet to be charged over the allegations.

The federal complaint charges Leveille with being in the US illegally and unlawfully in possession of firearms and ammunition. The other defendants are charged with aiding and conspiring with her.

The defendants face maximum sentences of between five and 10 years if convicted.

Their first court hearing is on Tuesday in Albuquerque, the FBI said.

Lawyers for the other three defendants were not immediately available for comment.