Texas authorities arrest woman, juvenile for allegedly kidnapping Florida baby

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Jenna Roark. (El Paso County Sheriff's Office)

EL PASO – On Sept. 26, 2022, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Criminal Investigations Division (CID) Special Agents, with assistance from Texas Highway Patrol Troopers, the United States Border Patrol (USBP) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested Jenna Roark, 45, of El Paso, and a 15-year-old juvenile on charges of smuggling of persons and aggravated kidnapping.

The charges stem from a Sept. 16, traffic stop conducted by DPS Troopers working Operation Lone Star. Troopers discovered Roark and the juvenile were smuggling illegal immigrants and were also traveling with an unidentified 18-month-old boy. The child was in poor health and was immediately taken by ambulance to a local hospital for treatment. He was then released to child protective services as officials investigated his identity and tried to locate family.

On Sept. 26, FBI El Paso contacted DPS CID Agents regarding information from Saint Petersburg, Florida, about a mother who’s baby was being held for ransom. FBI and DPS were able to confirm it was the child from the traffic stop. DPS, FBI and USBP personnel located and arrested Roark and the juvenile. Both have now been booked into the El Paso County Jail and the El Paso County Juvenile Probation.

“It’s an unthinkable situation to have your child kidnapped and held for ransom,” said Jose Sanchez, West Texas Regional Director. “DPS Troopers and CID Agents are specially trained in the Interdiction for the Protection of Children (IPC) which gives them the skills to take action in these situations and save children from further harm.”

“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. “Thankfully, the victim contacted the FBI St. Petersburg Field Office to report that her child was being held ransom. They immediately contacted our office to locate the subject and the child. Working with our partners at the Texas Department of Public Safety, we were able to share intelligence about the KFR, locate the child and assist in arresting the subject of this heartless kidnapping. If you are a victim or are a family member of a victim of a KFR, please call the FBI at 915-832-5000 or local law enforcement immediately.”


TXDPS

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