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Child Exploitation

Minnesota man sentenced for kidnapping his 2 children, fleeing to Mexico

MINNEAPOLIS - An illegal alien was sentenced to more than a year in prison Friday for kidnapping his two children and fleeing to Mexico. This sentencing resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Juan Manuel Garcia-Trujillo, 36, of Brooklyn Center, Minn., was sentenced Friday to 15 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge David Doty. Garcia-Trujillo was indicted in July 2008 for international parental kidnapping. Mexican authorities arrested him in LaBarca, Mexico, in July 2008, and turned him over to ICE. He pleaded guilty July 9.

According to Garcia-Trujillo's plea agreement, he admitted knowingly removing his children (then ages 2 and 8) from the United States on May 15, 2008, and intending to obstruct their mother's lawful exercise of parental rights. ICE reunited the children with their mother after Garcia-Trujillo was arrested.

"A father's obligation is to protect his children, not victimize them," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Bloomington. "This sentencing, the first of its kind in Minnesota, is the consequence for a man who used his children as pawns in a criminal power play."

According to an ICE affidavit, on July 20, 2007, the Brooklyn Center Police Department received a report of a sexual assault against a 9-year-old girl at a local in-home daycare business. The child reported she had been assaulted by the daycare provider's husband, Garcia-Trujillo. Garcia-Trujillo was charged in August 2007 with second-degree criminal sexual conduct in Hennepin County District Court, and was convicted in November 2007.

As a result of this conviction, he was prohibited from having unsupervised contact with his children. He was released from state custody in January 2008, and was arrested by ICE for being illegally present in the United States. ICE deported him on Jan. 30, 2008, but he illegally re-entered the country and returned to Minnesota.

On May 17, Garcia-Trujillo's wife told police that two days earlier he had taken their two children to Mexico, and he would not return them. Garcia-Trujillo told his wife she would have to go to Mexico if she wanted to see her children.

After he completes his latest prison sentence, Garcia-Trujillo will again be deported.

This case was the result of an investigation by ICE, the Brooklyn Center Police Department and the U.S. State Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan P. Petterson, District of Minnesota, prosecuted this case.