Child molester gets 14 years prison, probation
A 29-year-old man who repeatedly sexually assaulted a child was sentenced at Santa Cruz County Superior Court to 14 years in prison followed by a lifetime of probation.
Ricardo Meza Garcia will also have to register as a sex offender as part of his probation, according to the sentence handed down on Dec. 16 by Judge Thomas Fink.
As for his prison term, Meza was given credit for 398 days served in custody prior to sentencing. However, he will be ineligible for early release.
Court documents show that Meza was arrested Oct. 6, 2018 after he was caught in the act of sexually molesting an elementary school-age child.
During a forensic interview, the victim said they had been assaulted by Meza a number of times, and that the assaults involved a variety criminal acts committed over a period of several years.
According to his case file, Meza told a sheriff’s detective following his arrest that he had repeatedly assaulted the child, and claimed he felt guilty and horrible for what he did, but did not know why he did it.
Meza ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of sexual conduct with a child under 15 and one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child. Both offenses are Class 2 felonies that were designated as dangerous crimes against children.
Woman held hostage in Mexico returns home
A 911 call regarding a 27-year-old woman who had been kidnapped and held hostage in Nogales, Sonora led local authorities to reach out to their Mexican counterparts for answers, and ultimately ended with deputies locating the victim at a U.S. hospital, according to information from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.
Shortly after midnight on Saturday, Dec. 21, a woman reported to sheriff’s dispatch that two men knocked on her door in Rio Rico and told her that her daughter was being held hostage in Mexico, according to a dispatch report.
“Everything points that (the daughter) was involved in some type of illegal or criminal activity,” Sheriff’s Sgt. Santiago Gonzales said, adding that the men asked for ransom for the daughter’s release. “It wasn’t just some random act by people (in Mexico) that just picked up a random person.”
Upon receiving the call, he said, the Sheriff’s Office quickly reached out to the FBI, U.S. Consulate and municipal police in Nogales, Sonora and provided them with a photo of the woman they were searching for. He added that the municipal police confirmed they hadn’t had any type of involvement with the victim in the matter.
At some point, Gonzales said, the victim was released and she was able to return to the United States the following day, where a friend picked her up and took her to the hospital.
“She did claim she was assaulted and I would imagine she did have some injuries,” Gonzales said, adding that the victim did not want to have contact with law enforcement. However, her parents notified authorities that she had safely returned home.
Gonzales confirmed that there were no arrests made in reference to the men asking for ransom in Rio Rico, as there was little information gathered in the case.
“The victim in this case provided us with limited information about what transpired,” he said. “If we receive further information, we will definitely look into any new leads.”
Man gets prison for smuggling cocaine
When Emilio Ruiz Perez saw a Facebook post advertising a job that paid $500, he said, he contacted the person because he was desperate for money.
However, the job turned out to be criminal in nature, and on Dec. 16, 40-year-old Ruiz was sentenced in Santa Cruz County Superior Court to two years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of attempted unlawful transportation of a dangerous drug for sale, a Class 3 felony. He was given credit for 176 days served prior to his sentencing.
On June 22, according to his pre-sentence report, Ruiz and his wife tried to enter the United States through the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry
When Ruiz told the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer that his window couldn’t roll down, the agent conducted a density reading of Ruiz’s vehicle, which showed anomalies in the rear quarter panel of the vehicle and referred the couple for a secondary inspection of the car, according to court documents.
An X-ray scan of the vehicle further revealed anomalies in both rear quarter panels and a drug-sniffing dog alerted to the vehicle’s cargo area.
The pre-sentence report states that officers later discovered 24 packages of methamphetamine, weighing a total of 12.04 kilograms, hidden in the rear quarter panels.
Ruiz was arrested and booked into the Santa Cruz County jail, and his wife was released.
During his pre-sentence interview on Nov. 18, Ruiz stated that he was told to pick up $10,000 in Tucson and take it back to Mexico. He was to be paid $500 for the job.
He added that he was told a GPS device would be installed in his vehicle, but suspected that something else might have been installed in his car.
“I made a bad decision so I could help out with bills, the medical bills for my mother and school bills for my daughters,” Ruiz said in his interview, adding that his wife was not aware of anything he was doing. “I didn’t know what I had inside the vehicle, but I did know it was something illegal.”