NEW YORK (PIX11) — Members of an extremist Jewish sect helped kidnap a 14-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy in New York, United States Attorney for the Southern District Damian Williams said Thursday.

Mordechay Malka, 27, and Matityau Malka, 30, were convicted in White Plains federal court for their role in a 2018 kidnapping, Williams said. The children were smuggled to Mexico. Once there, the kidnappers brought the 14-year-old girl to her adult “husband,” who she’d been forced to religiously marry when she was 13.  

The children were recovered and returned to their mom in New York, but Mordechay Malka and Matityau Malka, along with co-conspirators Nachman Helbrans and Mayer Rosner, tried to kidnap the kids again in March of 2019. 

Helbrans and Rosner were convicted in connection with the case after a 2021 trial. They were each sentenced to 12 years in prison. 

The children lived in a Lev Tahor compound in Guatemala with their mother until they escaped in or around October of 2018, officials said. In November of that year, a Brooklyn family court granted the mom sole custody and prohibited the children’s father from communicating with the kids.

The kidnapping happened in December. The kidnappers used disguises, aliases, drop phones, fake travel documents, an encrypted application, and a secret pact, officials said.