Federal judge denies bail to New Mexico compound defendants

ALBUQUERQUE (Reuters) – Five members of a New Mexico compound on Wednesday were denied bail after a federal grand jury indicted them on firearms and conspiracy charges.

FILE PHOTO: A combination photo shows defendants Jany Leveille (L) and Siraj Ibn Wahhaj during a hearing in Taos District Court in Taos County, New Mexico, U.S., August 29, 2018. Eddie Moore/Pool via REUTERSREUTERS/File Photos

Magistrate Judge Kirtan Khalsa told the defendants in Albuquerque federal court there was “clear and convincing evidence that you are a danger to the community.”

The grand jury indictment on Tuesday alleges the defendants transported firearms and ammunition from Georgia to New Mexico in December 2017.

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of a compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken into protective custody for their own health and safety after a raid by authorities, is shown in this photo near Amalia, New Mexico, U.S., provided August 6, 2018. Taos County Sheriff’s Office/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

It states the group established a training camp in their remote compound in Taos County “to prepare for violent attacks on government, military, educational, and financial institutions.”

Jany Leveille, 35; Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40; Hujrah Wahhaj, 37; Subhanah Wahhaj, 35; and Lucas Morton, 40, all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The FBI arrested the defendants on Aug. 31 and charged Leveille with being an alien unlawfully in possession of firearms and ammunition. Leveille’s four co-defendants were charged with conspiring with her to commit the offense.

The five suspects were arrested on Aug. 3 after local police said they found 11 children without food or clean water and a cache of firearms at their desert compound in an Aug. 3 raid.

FILE PHOTO: Defense attorney Aleksandar Kostich (R) speaks to defendant Lucas Morton in district court where Morton and five others accused of child abuse were granted bail in Taos County, New Mexico, U.S. August 12, 2018. Picture taken August 12, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Hay/File Photo

Three days later police unearthed the body of a 3-year-old at the settlement located near the Colorado state line.

The five had initially faced child abuse charges in state court, but that case unraveled last month when state prosecutors missed a procedural deadline and charges were dismissed, allowing three suspects to be released.

State prosecutors say they will bring charges against Leveille and her partner Siraj Ibn Wahhaj related to the toddler’s death, and refile child abuse charges against the other defendants. [nL2N1VL1XB]

Carey Bhalla, an attorney for one of the defendants, told reporters after Wednesday’s hearing the prosecution’s evidence did not support the conspiracy charges. She had previously said she agreed for “the most part” with comments by state defense lawyers that the five were being discriminated against for being black and Muslim and they had acted within their rights of religious freedom and firearm ownership.

Chief prosecutor George Kraehe said the defendants “trained children to kill people as part of an end of times…jihad.”

Reporting by Dennis J. Carrol; Writing by Bill Tarrant; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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