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For Immediate Release

Contact:
February 15, 2009 Matt Hershey, Deputy U.S. Marshal
Public Affairs Officer (602) 920-4841
U.S. Marshals and Casa Grande Police Arrest Woman Sought in
Parental Abduction and Recover Both Children
Phoenix, AZ – A California woman sought for the parental abduction of her two minor children was arrested this afternoon at the Nogales Port of Entry after more than 10 days on the run.

Maria Velasquez, 31, was wanted on a felony warrant by the Pinal County Sheriffs Office for custodial interference. On February 04, 2009 Velasquez abducted her biological children, ages 8 and 9, as they left for school in Casa Grande, AZ. Velasquez had her parental rights taken away by the state of California and the children were temporarily living with relatives in Casa Grande. After the abduction, Investigators solicited the assistance of the United States Marshals Service Child Predator Apprehension Team, which specializes in apprehending non-compliant sex offenders and locating and recovering missing children.

Shortly after learning of the abduction, Investigators were able to determine that Velasquez, a U.S. Citizen, had fled the country and taken the children to Mexico. Investigators determined that Velasquez had ultimately fled to the state of Durango, Mexico. Armed with this information members of the United States Marshals Service Mexico Investigative Liaison Unit quickly notified law enforcement officials in Mexico, who helped facilitate the safe return of the two children and the arrest of Velasquez. Numerous law enforcement agencies in Mexico assisted in the investigation including: UNESA Specialized Apprehension Unit from Culiacan, Sinaloa, Durango Attorney General’s Office, and the Durango Commander of Asuntos Relevantes, Special Investigations Unit.

United States Marshal David Gonzales praised the work of Deputies and law enforcement officers adding, “The United States Marshals Service places the highest priority in locating and recovering children such as these, and we along with our state and local partners will continue to use every available resource to assist them in locating children who are the true victims of these crimes.”

The full-time federal, state, and local agencies that comprise the Arizona WANTED include: U.S. Marshals Service; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Arizona Department of Public Safety; Maricopa County Adult Probation Office; Mesa Police Department; Chandler Police Department; Tempe Police Department; Surprise Police Department; and several part-time state and local law enforcement agencies.

The Child Predator Apprehension Team is a dedicated unit of the US Marshals led-Arizona WANTED Fugitive Task Force which specializes in capturing offenders who commit crimes against children. The Arizona WANTED task force has elements in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma and Flagstaff.

The U.S. Marshals Service is the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency. Annually, U.S. Marshals arrest more than 50 percent of all federal fugitives and serve more federal warrants than all other federal agencies combined. For more information on other USMS Top 15 fugitives and USMS Major Cases, go to www.usmarshals.gov.