Taos Cty. compound was visited by authorities weeks before raid, documents reveal | KOB 4

Taos Cty. compound was visited by authorities weeks before raid, documents reveal

Ryan Laughlin
August 13, 2018 10:23 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Authorities raided a haggard compound near Taos last weekend, finding 11 children and arresting five adults, but new documents reveal that wasn't the first time law enforcement visited the site.


According to those documents, police were at the compound in June, weeks before the raid. It's unknown what exactly the makeshift living quarters looked like at that time, but it's clear there was a lot of waiting before the compound was raided.

Jason and Tanya Badger – who live on an adjacent piece of land – were trying to get the compound and its occupants to leave for months. They said the compound was partially on their property. 

Deputies with the Taos County Sheriff's Office told them they had to go through the eviction process, so they did. According to documents, Lucas Morton – one of the five adults arrested earlier this month – was supposed to show up in magistrate court in June.

He didn't. 

The Badgers even kept the receipt, showing they paid $74 to have a sheriff hand-deliver the summons to Morton, which happened on June 18.

"That means a uniformed officer was here and knew someone was living in this filth," Jason Badger said. "We went to court and that's when it got thrown out. Dismissed. Even though Lucas didn't show up."

The eviction process was stalled, seemingly permanently. Badger said the judge dismissed the claim because it was a matter of criminal trespass, not a civil suit. Thus, the Badgers were supposed to take the complaint to district court and state police.

"We did that," the Badgers said. "That's when we called New Mexico state troopers; he came out. Officer B. Donis came out and gave us, after all this, he said, 'We can't touch it.' And I said, 'I still want it. A case opened that we tried to get these people off.'"

The Badgers say state police arrived and talked to Morton; that officer would have been the second uniformed officer to see those living conditions firsthand.

In a press conference held in the days after the raid, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe was asked why the disputed land matter was not used as a reason to enter the compound earlier.

"That is a civil matter and did not rise to the warrant issued by the court," he said at the time.

The inconsistencies have frustrated the Badgers in recent days.

"How do you live with knowing that a child died on our property, one that you saw?" Tanya Badger said. "And tried to get authorities to do something about?"

The developments have led to more questions than answers, specifically about what exactly the officers saw on their visits, if they noticed any children and who, if anyone, did they notify.


Ryan Laughlin

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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