In New Mexico, where life off the grid is common, compound suspects fought

Taos County, New Mexico( CNN) The compound was hiding in plain sight, a white smudge in the dusty green expanse of sagebrush and juniper stretching across the Colorado-New Mexico border.

It had been two weeks since law enforcement raided lot 78 in Costilla Meadows, a rural subdivision in Amalia, New Mexico, where homes are off the grid and you can see your nearest neighbor miles over the dry grassland. Police find 11 malnourished infants there, shoeless and in tattered clothes, and arrested five adults. Days later, they found the remains of the 3-year-old boy they were searching for.

Two weeks after the raid, reminders of the family’s monthslong stay were piled in heaps of garbage on the property, where they had constructed the compound on a lot belonging to someone else, adjacent to their own.

Residents of this sparsely populated region of northern Taos County encountered members of the black Muslim family in familiar places: the gas station, the Family Dollar, the hardware store, the body shop. Little about the family members stood out, they said, apart from their dirty clothes and their skin color, a rarity in this area primarily inhabited by Hispanos — descendants of Spaniards who settled in the Southwest centuries ago.

Otherwise, those who fulfilled them said they seemed friendly. A resident recollected how one of the men tenderly wiped the nose of a exclaim child. What little the residents knew about the compound didn’t raise eyebrows in an area where many people live “in unconventional routes, ” as the judge in the case has said.

Individuals from society’s periphery have long sought refuge in this part of the state, where cheap land far from the nearest power line or shopping center is easy to find. The region’s history of welcoming outsiders has contributed to cross-cultural exchanges and a tolerant position that locals consider phases of pride. Many are quick to distance the state’s countercultural vibe from the compound and its dwellers, who are accused of training the children to commit mass shootings. But they also fear that the publicity around a example infused with allegations of terrorism, child abuse and faith healing might contribute to a rise in racism and Islamophobia.

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