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‘Most Wanted' aimed at nabbing local criminals

May 09, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

In an effort to catch suspected criminals, the county Sheriff's Office is using the media to spread word about individuals wanted by authorities.

The program, called "Imperial Valley's Most Wanted," is in its infancy, but it already is bringing results.

Started in April, the names and descriptions of three men, two sought by local authorities and one by Mexicali police, have been run in advertisements in this newspaper and on KECY-TV.

Jerry Godsey, the sheriff's crime prevention specialist, said one of three has been arrested. He said leads provided when individuals saw the advertisement led to the arrest.

The arrested man, Mario Ivan Rodriguez, 22, of Yuma, was taken into custody in Yuma last week. There had been a warrant for his arrest on a parole violation.

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According to Deputy District Attorney Karla Davis, the Rodriguez case dates back to May 1999, when he was in the Imperial Valley with his wife and started to beat her. Davis said Rodriguez beat her in Calexico and continued to do so as the couple drove to Yuma.

Rodriguez stopped at a rest stop near Yuma, where his wife fled onto the highway.

She managed to stop a Porsche with two Marines inside, who drove her to the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma.

Davis said Rodriguez tried to chase the Marines at high speeds with his 2-year-old daughter in the back seat. The Marines outran Rodriguez and after they reached the base, Rodriguez's wife was taken to the hospital.

Rodriguez was arrested in Yuma and was transferred to the Imperial Valley. He pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon with great bodily injury.

He served time in county jail, then was sent to Turning Point, a chemical dependency program, where he had problems and was returned to the county jail.

Davis said while in jail he got into a fight and it was thought that he suffered head injuries and was flown to a San Diego hospital.

While in San Diego, he was mistakenly deported in December 2000 to Mexico by a judge unaware he still had time to serve.

Davis said it was known that Rodriguez had family in Yuma and on May 2 he was taken into custody by U.S. marshals.

Godsey said because a lead was provided after the ad on Rodriguez was published, a $500 reward will be paid to the person who provided the lead.

Rodriguez has not yet been extradited to Imperial County. He remains in custody in Yuma.

One of the other individuals sought in connection with the program is Javier Phalen of Mexicali, wanted in connection with a kidnapping of a Mexicali youth.

That kidnapping occurred in Mexicali as the youth was playing outside. An individual riding a bike offered the youth a ride and the two disappeared. Godsey said local authorities are working with Mexicali officials on the case.

The third individual being sought is Richard Quintero, 39, of Holtville, wanted in connection with a string of burglaries in North County.

Godsey said about every two weeks another individual will be listed as an "Imperial Valley Most Wanted."

He said, "This is just another way for all of us to partner and make the Imperial Valley a better place."

Godsey said up to $1,000 in reward money can be awarded to those who provide leads that bring about arrests.

That money is provided through the sheriff's crime stoppers program.

He said it is important to remember that the Sheriff's Office is not advocating people make contact with the wanted individuals. He said people should simply call authorities with information.

Anyone with information can contact "Imperial Valley's Most Wanted at 339-NEED (6333).

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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