New York authorities said on Friday that three more alleged leaders of an extremist Jewish sect have been arrested on charges of kidnapping two children who were found safe in Mexico.
The three men brought the total arrested number to four, with Aron Rosner being arrested in New York on Dec. 23. Nachman Helbrans, Mayer Rosner and Jacob Rosner were arrested on Thursday following their deportation from Mexico to New York, the New York Daily News reported.
All four are being accused of abducting 14-year-old Yante Teller and her 12-year-old brother Chaim Teller, of Woodridge, N.Y., earlier this month and taking them out of the U.S.
“As alleged in the complaint, the defendants engaged in a terrifying kidnapping of two children in the middle of the night, taking the children across the border to Mexico,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said.
"As alleged in the complaint, the defendants engaged in a terrifying kidnapping of two children in the middle of the night, taking the children across the border to Mexico."
“Thankfully, the kidnappers were no match for the perseverance of the FBI, the New York State Police and Mexican authorities, and the children were recovered this morning after a nearly three-week search,” Berman said.
The men are believed to be the leaders of Lev Tahor, described by the authorities as an “extremist Jewish sect based in Guatemala” that in the past reportedly subjected children to physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
The authorities say that the mother of the children had been a “voluntary” member of the sect, which was founded by her father in 1994 – but decided to leave the group after the change of the leadership that made the sect more extreme.
Before her departure from the sect, she spoke out against the extremism within Lev Tahor and said that that children aren’t safe there.
Her father, Shlomo Helbrans, was previously convicted of kidnapping a 13-year-old in New York, according to the Daily News. He was later deported to Israel and died in 2017 in Mexico.
One of the defendants, Nachman Helbrans, is the new leader of the sect and the brother of the mother whose kids were abducted.
Authorities said the kids were located on Friday in the Mexican town of Tenango del Aire and there are plans to bring them back to the United States and reunite them with their mother.