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Amber Alert remains for 5 teens from New Mexico youth camp

HILLSBORO, N.M. — An Amber Alert remained in effect Sunday for five teenage boys reported missing from a rural New Mexico ranch for troubled youth, and state police said they believe they are in danger.

Meanwhile, an attorney for the Tierra Blanca High Country Youth Program near Hillsboro maintained that the children are safely with parents.

A spokesman for the state Children, Youth and Families Department, Henry Varela, said Sunday that the agency cannot take the attorney’s word on the teenagers.

“The key fact of it all is being able to physically confirm the whereabouts of the kids,” he said.

State police spokesman Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez said officers and agents aggressively are searching for the boys.

State police executed a search warrant at the ranch located at a 30,000-acre compound in the high desert country last week and discovered the teens weren’t there.

Ranch attorney Pete Domenici Jr. said the boys were away on what was supposed to be a two-week camping trip in southeastern Arizona. Each of them was picked up by family members, who were asked to let state police know they had done so, he said. Domenici said efforts by police to verify the whereabouts of the boys likely are complicated by custody proceedings filed by the state.

Authorities had issued an Amber Alert for the nine boys, ages 13 to 17. State police said late Saturday that four of them are back with their parents.

The search of the ranch came after the Albuquerque Journal reported that authorities were investigating claims that teenage boys were beaten and forced to wear leg shackles and handcuffs for minor violations of rules at the unlicensed program.

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