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Leaders of Jewish extremist sect arrested for abducting children & fleeing to Mexico: Feds

The FBI said the men are leaders of Lev Tahlor, an ultra-orthodox Jewish sect entangled in accusations of “physical, sexual, and emotional abuse” involving children

Authorities in New York announced Friday that they’ve arrested three leaders of an extremist Jewish sect for kidnapping two children who were found safe in Mexico, bringing the number charged in the alleged abduction plot to four.

Per the New York Daily News, authorities arrested Aron Rosner in New York City on December 23 while Nachman Helbrans, 36, Mayer Rosner, 42, and his son, Jacob Rosner, 20, were arrested Thursday following their deportation from Mexico to New York. U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman accused the men of abducting Yante Teller, 14, and brother Chaim Teller, 12, from their Woodridge home in the middle of the night on December 8 and taking them to Mexico.

Berman said Friday that the children were found safe in Tenango del Aire, Mexico. The FBI alleged the men were leaders of Lev Tahor, a Guatemalan-based extremist Jewish sect which the recent criminal complaint alleged subjected children “physical, sexual, and emotional abuse,” according to the outlet.

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Citing court filings, the Daily News reported that the children’s mother, Sara Helbrans, was a “voluntary member” of Lev Tahlor but cut ties in recent weeks due to the leadership’s extreme behavior. It’s worth noting that the mother’s father, Shlomo Helbrans, founded the sect in Jerusalem in 1987 and was convicted in 1994 of abducting a 13-year-old in New York. He reportedly drowned in Mexico in 2017.

The New York Post noted that the Nachman is the children’s uncle and Sara’s brother. The outlet reported that the men are accused of taking the children, disguised in non-religious garb, to Mexico via a small airport in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Officials said an unnamed co-conspirator who snuck a cell phone to the 14-year-old girl, allowing the four men to plan the pickup in front of the siblings’ home. Officials added that the co-conspirator is cooperating with federal officials.

Berman said, “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.”

The Attorney General said they’re working to reunite the children with their mother.

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[Featured Image: Yante Teller, Chaim Teller/New York State Police]