In the wake of harrowing discoveries — including the buried body of a small child — at a compound in New Mexico recently, immigration officials said Wednesday that one of the suspects arrested is a longtime illegal immigrant from Haiti who overstayed her visitor visa, and by more than two decades.
Jany Leveille, 35, was arrested with four others on August 4, when state and local police raided the makeshift compound in rural Amalia, New Mexico. Police officers found two men, three women and 11 children living in squalor and allegedly training for a mass shooting of some kind, according to New Mexico state prosecutors.
As LifeZette noted earlier this week, Leveille was transferred to the custody of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said that on Tuesday, according to Fox News and other outlets.
“ICE issued her a notice to appear before a federal immigration judge, and she remains in ICE custody pending resolution of her immigration proceedings,” spokesperson Leticia Zamarripa told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Leveille has been unlawfully present in the U.S. for more than 20 years after overstaying the validity of her non-immigrant visitor visa.”
Two days prior to Leveille’s immigration detention, New Mexico judge Judge Sarah Backus — amazingly — ordered Leveille and the four other defendants to be released from state custody on a $20,000 signature bond, despite the death of a three-year-old boy.
During a search of the compound on August 9, police found the body of the toddler buried in a tunnel on the property. Investigators believe the remains are those of Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, but say it could take weeks to identify the body.
Prosecutors alleged that all five suspects were giving firearms training to the children at the compound “in furtherance of a conspiracy to commit school shootings.”
An FBI agent also testified that one of the children told him other prospective targets would include “the financial system, law enforcement, the education system.”
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Even so, Backus said New Mexico state prosecutors had failed to show that the defendants posed a threat to the community and should be denied bail.
“What I’ve heard here today is troubling, definitely. Troubling facts about numerous children in far from ideal circumstances and individuals who are living in a very unconventional way — although if you have lived in northern New Mexico for any period of time you are aware that many people here live in unconventional ways,” Judge Sarah Backus said.
Extreme and diabolical is more like it. And now a little boy is dead.
Now, Backus is facing death threats herself as this troubling case continues to unravel.
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Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor. Follow her on Twitter.