3 People Charged in Abduction Of 2 Girls
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Two teenage girls from Herndon were kidnapped Monday -- and found safely in the Atlanta area yesterday -- and Fairfax County police are investigating whether their abductors planned to sell them to a prostitution ring, authorities said.
Police began looking for the girls Monday evening and called in help from federal marshals and the FBI when it became apparent that the teens had not run away and were possibly being held against their will. The authorities eventually pinpointed a house in Mableton, Ga., a suburb west of Atlanta, and found the girls and their alleged abductors about 3:30 a.m., Fairfax police officer Camille Neville said.
The girls, ages 16 and 17, were not harmed, Neville said. Fairfax police obtained warrants charging Javier Ronal, 21, of Dumfries, Erick Estrada, 23, of no fixed address, and a 17-year-old Dumfries girl with two counts each of abduction with the intent to defile. The teen is charged as a juvenile. All three were being held in Cobb County, Ga., pending extradition hearings.
Police said the teenagers spent Sunday night together at the 16-year-old girl's home near Mager Drive and Parcher Avenue, and her father discovered them missing Monday morning. He contacted the other girl's father. The parents tried to find their daughters, then called police about 6 p.m. Monday. By Tuesday, as police learned that the girls might have been taken out of Northern Virginia, federal investigators were summoned.
The girls knew at least one of the two men charged, said Barry Boright, a supervisor with the U.S. Marshals Service's Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force, "and originally they were with them willingly."
But at some point, Boright said, "things appeared to have changed. These girls were going to be sold into prostitution in Florida."
Investigators are trying to determine whether at least one of the men was associated with the street gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, Boright said.
The girls were allowed to make phone calls at some point, Boright said, and alerted their families that they had been abducted. Marshals soon enlisted another law enforcement group, the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force in Atlanta, to help with the search.
Police did not issue an Amber Alert, a widely broadcast message to help find missing children quickly, because "we had so many good leads that we feared that putting out a release or Amber Alert might send these people into hiding," Neville said.
Investigators in the Atlanta area discovered some possible locations of the suspects, and when task force members entered the house early yesterday, they found 10 people, Boright said.
The girls remained in the Atlanta area yesterday, pending an examination of their welfare and security. Fairfax police plan to travel to Atlanta, and "we intend to investigate it thoroughly," Neville said.