Extremist sect, meet the FBI. Prosecutors have charged four men allegedly involved in kidnapping two New York state children in order to haul them down to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group in Guatemala, the Journal News reports. Seems Nachman Helbrans, 36, Mayer Rosner, 42, Jacob Rosner, 20—all of Guatemala—coordinated with Brooklyn resident Aron Rosner, 45, to kidnap the children from Woodridge, NY, on Dec. 8. According to officials, the perpetrators coordinated the 3am abduction by slipping a cellphone to Yante Helbrans, 14, and getting her to meet outside with brother Chaim Helbrans, 12, per the New York Post. The suspects allegedly dressed the children in non-religious clothing and flew them to Mexico via a small Pennsylvania airport.
Mother Sara Helbrans says she fled the Lev Tahor sect six weeks ago when things got too extreme. Her father had founded the group, was convicted in 1994 of kidnapping a New York 13-year-old, got deported to Israel, and in 2017 drowned in Mexico, per the AP. Then Sara's brother, Nachman—one of the four charged—took over and allegedly tried to marry off Yante when she was just 13. Court records say Sara objected and was emotionally abused until she escaped the sect's Guatemala compound with her children. Now, the good news: Yante and Chaim were found in Mexico and reunited with their mom. "Thankfully, the kidnappers were no match for the perseverance of the FBI, the New York State Police, and Mexican authorities," says Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman. (Meanwhile, a woman kidnapped in the 1980s has finally been rescued.)