Five illegal immigrants accused of trafficking 14-year-old girl across America

Five foreign nationals residing illegally in the United States were arrested Monday in Macon County, Missouri, and charged with endangering the welfare of a child who was with them.

The men allegedly transported a 14-year-old girl from Indiana to California to meet a man the girl met online, according to local news outlet KTVO 21.

His father previously said he saw the teen get into a black SUV, which then drove off. He then alerted law enforcement in Cass County, Indiana about his missing daughter. The sheriff's office began locating the girl before the black SUV even left Illinois and crossed into Missouri.

According to the probable cause statement filed by the arresting officer, the Indiana sheriff asked for the girl's cell phone number and followed her westbound on U.S. 36, near Hannibal, Missouri. Indiana authorities contacted the Missouri Highway Patrol, who then notified local law enforcement.

Minutes later, Shelbina police notified the Highway Patrol that they observed a black SUV with Texas registration acting suspiciously by slowing to 64 miles per hour when approached by a local police car. Ten minutes later, the Highway Patrol, assisted by Macon County deputies, stopped the vehicle and located the missing girl.

Probable cause indicates all five men are in the United States illegally and pose a “flight risk” if released on bond. Missouri prosecutors requested that no bond be issued for the defendants, noting that in addition to the flight risk, the offense involves a minor and the defendants may pose a risk to the minor victim if released.

Those arrested were Arturo Eustaquio, 41, of Mexico, who was driving the vehicle when he was stopped; Noe Guzman Hernandez, 24, also from Mexico; Marlon Aguilar, 44, from Honduras; Daniel Ruiz Lopez, 19, from Honduras; and Carlos Funez, 56, also from Honduras. They were each charged with endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree, a class D felony.

In Missouri, Class D felonies are punishable by up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The criminal complaint alleges that the defendants “knowingly acted in a manner that created a substantial risk to the body and health of MG, a child under the age of seventeen, by taking her from her home and transporting across several states without his parents. [sic] consent to meet an unknown adult man she met on the Internet.

There was no sexual contact between the men and the girl, according to the charges filed by the prosecutor. Police reported that the girl was taken into protective custody and was in good health, reported.

A bail hearing is scheduled for Friday.

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