Man Kidnaps Teen Girl to Get Past COVID-19 Checkpoint at Florida Keys: Police
Authorities arrested a man who allegedly tasked a teen girl to drive him and another woman through a coronavirus (COVID-19) checkpoint against her will.
On Thursday, Alexander Michael Sardinas, 37, of Tavernier, Florida, was arrested and charged with kidnapping/false imprisonment, according to the Monroe County Sheriff's Department. There were no injuries reported.
Earlier in the morning, Sardinas tried to enter the Florida Keys with another woman, 43, via a ride-share taxi without proper ID, says the sheriff's office. They were denied entry. A trooper spotted the two after and gave them a courtesy ride to Florida City.
That's when, according to authorities, Sardinas and the woman went to the parking lot of a Publix grocery store at noon in Homestead, Florida and approached the victim.
The 17-year-old victim had Monroe County plates and a Hurricane reentry sticker on her car. The Florida Keys are currently closed to nonresidents in order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, and a checkpoint is used for entrance.
Authorities say the teen told detectives that Sardinas "threatened to hurt" her "if she refused" to transport him and the woman to Tavernier. The victim allegedly said he also threatened to harm her if she used her mobile phone.
The girl said she didn't indicate to authorities at the checkpoint that the passenger threatened her since she was scared, according to detectives.
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Once they passed the checkpoint, Sardinas allegedly left the vehicle at a gas station, and the woman told the victim to drop her off at a pharmacy. The girl then called a family member, who called the police.
After a search, detectives were able to find the two and took them in for questioning. While Sardinas and the woman, according to authorities, didn't deny being in the car with the teenage victim, they both gave "conflicting stories" on how and where they came into contact with her.
“I am relieved this suspect is currently sitting in jail and the young victim in this case was not seriously hurt,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay in a statement. “I want to thank and commend my staff as well as our partners at the Florida Highway Patrol for quickly putting two and two together that resulted in a quick arrest.”
Sardinas was booked into jail, and the sheriff's department said there are more arrests and charges pending in the case.
It was not immediately clear if Sardinas had a representative to reach for comment.
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