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An El Paso woman and a juvenile were arrested Monday after law enforcement determined that they had kidnapped a Florida mom’s 18-month-old baby.
Jenna Roark, 45, and a 15-year-old juvenile are facing charges of smuggling of persons and aggravated kidnapping.
Special Agents from Texas Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Criminal Investigations Division (CID) arrested the pair Monday with assistance from Texas Highway Patrol, U.S. Border Patrol (USBP), and the FBI.
The charges stem from a September 16 traffic stop, according to a DPS press release. Troopers discovered that Roark and the juvenile were smuggling illegal immigrants while also traveling with an unidentified 18-month-old baby, DPS said.
DPS said the child was in poor health and was taken to a local hospital for treatment. He was later released to child protective services while investigators tried to determine his identity.
On Monday, FBI El Paso alerted DPS CID Agents about a mom in St. Petersburg, Florida who reported that her baby was being held for ransom. Investigators determined that her baby was the same 18-month-old infant found in the traffic stop.
DPS, FBI, and USBP tracked down Roark and the juvenile and arrested them. They have been booked in the El Paso County Jail and the El Paso County Juvenile Probation. Their relationship was not immediately clear.
“Being caught in a kidnapping for ransom (KFR) extortion incident is frightening as it is, but when the subject kidnaps a small child to hold for collateral until the parent pays for their services, is utterly inhumane and heartless,” said Jeffery R. Downey, FBI El Paso Special Agent in Charge in a statement.