ALBUQUERQUE – The FBI has arrested five residents of a compound in Amalia, in Taos County (Amalia Compound), on a federal criminal complaint charging them with violating the federal firearms and conspiracy laws.
According to a U.S. Department of Justice press release, the arrests were announced by U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson and Special Agent in Charge James C. Langenberg of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division.
The defendants, Jany Leveille, 35, a Haitian national illegally present in the United States, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40, Hujrah Wahhaj, 37, Subhanah Wahhaj, 35, and Lucas Morton, 40, are charged in a criminal complaint that was filed earlier today in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. The criminal complaint charges Jany Leveille with being an alien unlawfully in possession of firearms and ammunition in the District of New Mexico from Nov. 2017 through Aug. 2018. The criminal complaint charges the other four defendants with aiding and abetting Leveille in committing the offense, and with conspiring with Leveille to commit the offense.
According to the criminal complaint, on Aug. 3, 2018, law enforcement officers of the Taos County Sheriff’s Office executed search warrants at the Amalia Compound, where the five defendants were residing, and allegedly seized at least eleven firearms and a large quantity of ammunition. The complaint alleges that the firearms were transported from Georgia and/or Alabama to New Mexico in Leveille’s vehicle.
The FBI arrested the defendants without incident in Taos, N.M., this afternoon with the assistance of the Taos County Sheriff’s Office. The defendants will make their initial appearances in federal court in Albuquerque on September 4, 2018.
If convicted of the charge against her, Leveille faces a statutory maximum penalty of ten years of imprisonment and deportation upon completion of her sentence. If convicted of aiding and abetting Leveille, Leveille’s co-defendants each face a statutory maximum penalty of ten years of imprisonment. If convicted on the conspiracy charge, the five defendants each face a statutory penalty of five years of imprisonment. Charges in criminal complaints are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
The Albuquerque Division of the FBI investigated the case, with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, the Taos County Sheriff’s Office, and the 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney George C. Kraehe is prosecuting the case.
U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson and FBI Special Agent in Charge James C. Langenberg thanked the Taos County Sheriff’s Office and 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for supporting the federal investigation.
The previous day (Thursday, Aug. 30), 8th Judicial District Attorney Donald Gallegos issued a statement noting the office is dismissing charges against Wahhaj and Laveille “on the grounds that the charges will be taken to the grand jury to be convened in September.”
On Wednesday, District Judges Chavez and Jeff McElroy ruled to drop all five cases after prosecutors failed to hold their preliminary hearings within the state-mandated 10-day window for defendants who are incarcerated.
Gallegos defended his attorneys, noting, “Had the cases gone to preliminary hearing within the 10 days as required, it would be nearly impossible to get all the witnesses, documents, exhibits, statements, etc., that would be required to have the court make a finding of probable cause.
“Presenting the case to a grand jury allows the prosecutor’s office to present evidence that would not otherwise be admissible at a preliminary hearing.
Additionally, Gallegos noted, a preliminary hearing could have subjected the two older to cross-examination, while presenting the cases to a grand jury will not require their testimony. “The law allows hearsay testimony to be presented to a grand jury provided it is credible.
“This office is fully aware that having the two older children testify could be very traumatic to them, especially with the amount of attention these cases have been getting and anticipating that the courtroom would be crowded.”
“We have been notified by the District Court that the grand jury will not be convened until Sept. 27.”