Police say that a message with just eight words led them to a "filthy" makeshift compound in the New Mexico desert where two Muslims were arrested after what they found there.
'Saddest living conditions and poverty I have seen'
Eleven children, ages 1 to 15, were taken into custody at the compound in New Mexico after a standoff between two Muslim men and the police.
The Taos County Sheriff's office said in a statement that they were alerted to the compound by Georgia police who had received a message from an inhabitant of the encampment.
"We are starving and need food and water," read the message.
Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said that they knew they could not wait after receiving the message, and obtained a warrant on Thursday.
"I absolutely knew that we couldn’t wait on another agency to step up and we had to go check this out as soon as possible, so I began working on a search warrant right after I got that intercepted message," Hogrefe said. "It had to be a search warrant and a tactical approach for our own safety because we had learned the occupants were most likely heavily armed and considered extremist of the Muslim belief."
I’m in Sky 7 flying over the compound in Taos county where investigators found 11 children who have been placed in… https://t.co/4zQ8zfYf7M— JoelKOAT (@JoelKOAT) 1533582421.0
"We also knew from the layout of the compound they would have an advantage if we didn’t deploy tactfully and quickly," he added.
On Friday, eight members of the sheriff's office raided the compound and discovered the children, who were dressed in dirty rags. They found no water, and very little food. They arrested two men and detained three women, who appeared to be the mothers of the children. One woman was pregnant.
"The only food we saw were a few potatoes and a box of rice in the filthy trailer," Sheriff Hogrefe explained. "But what was most surprising, and heartbreaking, was when the team located a total of five adults and 11 children that looked like Third World country refugees not only with no food or fresh water, but with no shoes, personal hygiene and basically dirty rags for clothing.
“We all gave the kids our water and what snacks we had," he added. "It was the saddest living conditions and poverty I have seen."
Police recovered one AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, five 30-round magazines and four handguns.
The two men were charged with 11 counts of child abuse, while the women were released.
Here's the CNN report about the compound:
Three of the 5 people arrested after the Taos compound raid are siblings. The three women arrested are mothers to a… https://t.co/NdNjmEuVFj— Ryan Laughlin (@Ryan Laughlin) 1533605353.0
On @KOB4 tonight: We have the exclusive first look inside the Muslim extremist compound in Taos County where 11 chi… https://t.co/CCyaSIhyJG— Ryan Laughlin (@Ryan Laughlin) 1533490292.0