Authorities Find Girl Abducted By Border Smugglers
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A tip from an informant led to the rescue of a 17-year-old Mexican girl who was abducted when her father was unable to pay a $600 fee to smugglers who brought them into the United States, officials say.
Rosa Romero, 28, was booked for investigation of kidnapping after she led deputies Wednesday to a house in Lynwood, about 10 miles south of Los Angeles, where they found the girl, deputies said.
At the same time, Mexican authorities arrested Bulmaro Lopez Chavez, 30, in Tijuana, Mexico, for investigation of kidnapping and rape, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tom Hageboeck.
Manuel Reyes, 48, of Huahuapan, Mexico, had reported his daughter was abducted March 12 near La Crescenta, 15 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, after he failed to pay two guides for escorting them across the border.
Reyes told authorities he escaped after the guides robbed and beat him and threatened him with a knife.
″We’re getting more and more of these incidents,″ said Sheldon Grover, an investigator with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. ″They’re demanding more and more money.″
The smugglers, also known as ″coyotes,″ have a reputation of toughness, Hageboeck said.
″If the person doesn’t pay, they’re tortured, beaten or they will hold a child until somebody pays,″ Hageboeck said.
Investigators spent two days driving around the Los Angeles area in search of a house where Reyes had stayed after crossing the border.
″He was illiterate and he’d only seen the house once, so it was pretty tough,″ Hageboeck said.
But then Hageboeck said he received what he called a ″lucky break″ - a telephone call from a confidential source Wednesday morning that led him to question Ms. Romero.
″She (finally) said, OK, I’ll take you to her,″ Hageboeck said.
The teen-ager had been sexually assaulted, officials said.
Reyes and his daughter will be turned over to the INS, and will eventually face deportation, Grover said.