Jewish sect members accused of kidnapping children in New York

Map showing New York, the village of Woodridge, and Scranton, Pennsylvania

Four members of a Jewish sect have been charged with kidnapping a young brother and sister in New York state.

Prosecutors say the men belong to the ultra-Orthodox Lev Tahor group, which is based in Guatemala.

They are accused of abducting a 14-year-old girl and her 12-year-old brother from the village of Woodridge, which is north of New York City.

The men planned to take the pair back to Guatemala after their mother fled the sect six weeks earlier.

The woman had reportedly feared for her children’s safety and felt the group, which was founded by her father, was becoming more extreme under the leadership of her brother.

Its teachings reportedly include that women must be veiled from head to toe in black tunics.

  • Jews ‘forced’ to leave Guatemala village

The four men, aged between 20 and 45, are accused of kidnapping the siblings from their home on 8 December and taking them to a small airport near the city of Scranton in Pennsylvania.

They were then flown to Mexico, but were located in the the town of Tenango del Aire on Friday morning and have since been reunited with their mother in Woodridge.

Three of the suspects, Nachman Helbrans, Mayer Rosner and Jacob Rosner, were deported from Mexico on Thursday and arrested on their arrival in the US.

The fourth suspect, Aron Rosner, was arrested by the FBI in Brooklyn on 23 December and is accused of providing financial support to the group.

All of the men have been charged with one count of kidnapping, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.