Rony Mendez was extradited from Guatemala for sexually assaulting and criminally impregnating an 11-year-old Polk County Girl.
PCSO Detectives worked with FBI & US Department of Justice to return 25-year-old Rony Mendez to the USA for prosecution.
On November 27, 2014, PCSO Special Victims Unit detectives obtained an arrest warrant for 25-year-old Rony Mendez (DOB 1/11/1991), who was 23 years old at the time, charging him with three counts of Sexual Battery on a Minor Under 12 Years Old (F-C), and one count Lewd Molestation (F-L), after Mendez sexually molested and impregnated a then-11-year-old girl with whom he had access. The suspect fled to Guatemala in November 2014, but has been extradited back to Polk County on the active warrant—he arrived in Tampa on Monday, August 29, 2016.
According to the affidavit, on November 26, 2014, PCSO detectives responded to the victim’s home after being contacted by the Polk County Health Department when a urinalysis they conducted on the 11-year-old victim confirmed she was pregnant. The victim’s mother told detectives that she took her daughter to the Health Department to inquire about her daughter’s illness, with symptoms of loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting, that she suspected was due to recent vaccinations she had been administered. During the medical exam, the mother was informed that her daughter was pregnant. The mother told detectives that her daughter did not have contact with any unknown males, but suspected one particular person close to the family, Rony Mendez. At that time, the victim denied having contact with any males, including Mendez.
The same day, detectives went to Mendez’s place of employment to interview him, but were told by his employer that he left suddenly to deal with what he called “an emergency.” The sudden absence coincided with a telephone call to Mendez from the victim’s mother, asking if he had sexually abused her daughter. Detectives spoke with the victim’s mother again, who confirmed Mendez retrieved his belongings that day after she called him, and, being a Guatemalan citizen, may be headed to Guatemala. The victim then disclosed to her mother and detectives that the suspect sexually battered her on at least four separate occasions.
The first incident occurred at the beginning of the child’s 5th-grade year 2013, when she was 9 years of age. Through the investigation, during this incident, Mendez went into the child’s bedroom and fondled her breast over her clothing.
The second incident occurred in October 2013, when she was 10 years of age. Detectives learned this incident occurred as the child was sleeping in her mother’s bed, while her mother was away at work. During this incident, Mendez sexually battered the child.
The third incident occurred when she was between 10 and 11 years of age. Detectives learned this incident was similar to the second with the suspect sexually battering the child while the child’s mother was at work.
The fourth incident occurred between June and July 2014 when she was 11 years of age. Detectives learned, during this incident, Mendez instructed the child to lie down and he removed his and her clothing and sexually battered her.
On December 2, 2014, the victim’s mother contacted PCSO detectives and told them the suspect called her and told her that he was in Guatemala and that he left the country because he was afraid of law enforcement and DCF involvement.
On December 18, 2014, detectives collected items left behind by the suspect that contained his DNA. An analysis of his DNA compared to the DNA of the baby, who was born in the mid-spring of 2015, confirmed that Mendez is the biological father of the baby.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted the PCSO by coordinating the arrest and extradition of Mendez through the FBI Legal Attaché office in Guatemala. The extradition process included coordination with the US Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the Guatemala Public Ministry, and the Guatemala National Police (GNP).
On April 21, 2016, at the FBI’s request, Mendez was arrested without incident by GNP in West Central Guatemala. Extradition authority was finalized in August. On Monday, August 29, 2016, FBI and PCSO personnel from Florida took custody of Mendez in Guatemala and escorted him back to the U.S. Mendez remains in custody in Polk County awaiting a first appearance hearing.
“This arrest reflects the dedication and determination of our detectives and their counterparts within the FBI Tampa office and the Department of Justice. Mendez perversely took advantage of a young child. It just doesn’t get much worse than that. He tried running away from the consequences of his actions, but he couldn’t hide from justice. Our thanks also go to Guatemalan law enforcement and judicial officials who worked with US officials to bring Mendez back to the US. We look forward to holding Mendez accountable for his crimes, and we hope he spends many more years thinking about his violation of an innocent child.” – Sheriff Grady Judd