Illegal Immigrant Charged in Kidnapping of 13-year-old
On July 7th, a 13-year-old girl was reported missing to Florida’s Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Very little has been revealed about the ensuing investigation. Or even about where police got their tips. But within days, authorities in Florida were told that the missing girl was likely in a home up in Michigan. And not alone. Probably with a 23-year-old illegal immigrant.
The house, located on 48th Avenue in Hartford Township, was in the jurisdiction of the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office. Working together with Covert Township Police Department and the Pokagon Tribal Police Department, Deputies conducted a search of the premises.
The missing girl was located in the home, along with the man in question. His name is Aurelio Hernandez-Gomez. The girl was placed into protective custody until officials arranged her safe return to Florida.
According to authorities, Gomez was arrested and admitted in subsequent interviews with police that he had entered the United States illegally from Mexico. Gomez is apparently a former resident of Chiapas. This is a southern state in Mexico that borders Guatemala.
According to officials, the girl was sexually assaulted by Gomez during their time together. Few details have been released about this particular part of the investigation. It is currently not known if the girl left with Gomez voluntarily or was taken against her will.
Gomez is facing kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct charges. If he is charged and convicted here in the United States, and specifically here in Michigan, he is facing the possibility of up to life in prison on the kidnapping charge alone. As it turns out, it would make little difference to Gomez if he were prosecuted in Florida instead. Their penal code is similar. Florida also punishes kidnapping convictions with life sentences.
United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been contacted. It is expected that Gomez will be extradited back to Mexico at some point in the future. Gomez was arraigned in the South Haven Circuit Court, and is now awaiting his next hearing. He is currently being held in the Van Buren County Jail in Paw Paw.