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Operational
02/19/2020

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ICE Tampa assists in rescue of endangered child

TAMPA – A missing/endangered five-year-old girl was located and rescued Jan. 30 with assistance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Tampa.

“This case represents the very best in law enforcement agencies working together,” said ERO Miami acting Field Office Director Jim Martin.
“HSI is proud to be part of the entire law enforcement team that worked to save this young girl from harm,” said HSI Tampa acting Special Agent in Charge Kevin Sibley.

On Jan, 29, 2020, ERO Miami/Tampa and HSI Tampa assisted the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) with an investigation of a missing/endangered child. Alfredo Mendoza-Mendez, 24, a citizen and national of Guatemala was suspected by Hillsborough County Child Protective Services of child endangerment/abuse against a minor. Local authorities had checked several possible locations and were unable to locate Mendoza-Mendez or the minor victim.

After HCSO reached out to ICE for support, an HSI special agent and ERO deportation officer were able to conduct record checks through ICE databases. Their research determined Mendoza-Mendez had multiple immigration encounters and he had previously provided an address in Pennsylvania that was unknown to local law enforcement.

The information was shared with various law enforcement partners and Jan. 30, 2020, Mendoza Mendez and the minor were located by Pennsylvania State Troopers in Chester County, Pa. The minor was taken to a local hospital for observation and was flown back to Tampa, where she is sheltered by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) until she can be placed in a foster home, as per the Hillsborough County Missing Juvenile Unit.

Mendoza-Mendez was detained in the Chester County Jail pending extradition to Hillsborough County in Florida. Mendoza-Mendez is pending charges for Removing or Concealing a Minor, in violation of F.S. 787.04. An ICE detainer was lodged Jan. 30, 2020. ICE ERO will detain Mendoza-Mendez after completion of criminal charge pending removal efforts to Guatemala.

Other background discovered by ICE’s research and shared with local authorities include that Mendoza-Mendez illegally entered the U.S. Jan. 8, 2017 and was apprehended by the United States Border Patrol (USBP) and removed from the United States to Guatemala Jan. 13, 2017. On May 8, 2019, he illegally reentered the U.S. and was apprehended by USBP and processed as a reentry. Because he was traveling as a family unit, Mendoza-Mendez was processed and released and enrolled into ICE’s Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program. On July 5, 2019, Mendoza-Mendez was terminated from the ATD program after absconding.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 02/19/2020