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FBI arrests 5 from New Mexico compound on firearms charges

Prosecutors dropped charges in the death of a 3-year-old boy and instead will seek grand jury indictments.
Image: Taos County compound
A compound in New Mexico where five people were arrested after a dead 3-year-old boy was discovered on the property and 11 children were found living in filthy conditions. After the initial charges were dropped, the five were arrested again Friday on firearms and conspiracy charges. Taos County Sheriff's Office / Reuters

SANTA FE, N.M. — The FBI on Friday arrested five former residents of a ramshackle compound in New Mexico on firearms and conspiracy charges as local prosecutors dropped charges in the death of a 3-year-old boy at the property.

Taos County District Attorney Donald Gallegos said his office will now seek grand jury indictments involving the death. He said seeking indictments will allow more time to gather and analyze evidence.

Three of the adults from the compound had been released Wednesday after state judges dismissed child neglect charges, noting that prosecutors missed deadlines to present evidence.

More deadlines loomed in state court next week to show evidence backing up charges of child abuse resulting in death against Jany Leveille and Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, the father of the boy whose body was found in an underground tunnel at the compound near the Colorado border.

Those charges were dropped in lieu of taking the case to a grand jury set to convene in late September.

"Going to a grand jury allows us to get that information and vet it and not be under the 10-day window, which is quite burdensome," Gallegos said, describing state rules of due process for jailed defendants that require a quick showing of probable cause that a crime was committed.

All five people arrested by the FBI will remain in custody pending a Tuesday hearing in federal court.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Albuquerque said compound resident Jany Leveille has been charged with being an "alien unlawfully in possession of firearms and ammunition."

The other four members are charged with conspiring with Leveille.