DALLAS –– Dallas police have arrested an accused child rapist who escaped justice for four years and whose case led to a News 8 Investigation exposing how hundreds of illegal immigrants, accused of serious crimes like rape and murder, were deported from Dallas County instead of ever going to trial.
Nearly four years ago to the date, Dallas detectives found DNA evidence that linked Mexican citizen Jose Rico to the brutal rape of two young girls in northeast Dallas.
He was arrested and sat in jail for five months. But in August of 2009, he bonded out. Soon thereafter, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents deported him, sending him back to Mexico on a bus.
He then vanished. Until Thursday.
Rico, 37, is now being held, without bond, in the Dallas County Jail. According to Dallas Police Department spokeswoman Sherri Jeffrey, Det. Vidal Olivarez, who led the initial investigation along with Det. Jerry Williams, got a provisional warrant to pursue Rico in Mexico.
That warrant, granted by the federal Office of International Affairs, allows American agents to pursue a suspect in a foreign country and bring him or her back to the United States for trial. Jeffrey said Olivarez found two informants who helped "pinpoint Rico's physical address, work information and the vehicle he was driving in Mexico."
This information was forwarded to U.S. Marshals who located and arrested Rico in July. They brought him back to Dallas on Thursday. Jeffrey said Olivarez met him on the tarmac.
Police and prosecutors say Rico's first sexual assault occurred in October 2008. The second happened in January 2009. The girls were 12 and 14-years-old. Both were bound with tape and raped. One of the victims told investigators that Rico threatened to kill her if she didn't stop screaming.
The northeast Dallas neighborhood of Five Points feared a serial rapist was on the loose. The Dallas Police Department formed a special investigative team to find the person responsible, ultimately assigning Olivarez and Williams to lead it.
In March of 2009, the department issued a 'suspicious person' alert after someone attempted break into an unlocked apartment. Police were able to get a partial license plate number off a Chevy Tahoe, which led investigators to Rico, who had been arrested the day before for burglary.
A DNA swab matched Rico to the rapes, Jeffrey said.
As detailed in News 8 reports from 2009, Rico's initial bond was $10,000. After the Dallas County District Attorney's Office brought the two sexual assault charges against him in April, a judge ordered him held.
But on August 6, 2009, a judge reinstated Rico's burglary bond. As News 8's David Schechter reported then, District Attorney Craig Watkins said Rico's defense attorney didn't share critical information with the judge about each charge his client was facing, which prompted the bond to be reinstated.
After Rico posted bond, ICE agents didn't find any information related to the rapes. In a statement issued in 2009, a spokesman wrote, "There was absolutely no indication of any charges related to a sex crime."
Now, nearly four years later, Rico is back behind bars in Dallas County, being held without bond.
The mishandling of Rico's case spurred a News 8 investigation into how many deported felons don't face justice for their crimes. From 1991 to 2009, the Dallas County D.A.'s Office said 128 accused murderers, 18 attempted murderers, 409 child sex assault suspects and 54 rapists slipped out of sight of the justice system because of their residency.
In June of 2010, the loophole allowing these felons to bond out of jail or be released in Dallas County was closed. Anyone who was considered a flight risk due to possible deportation was saddled with a mandatory $100,000 bond. Now, in 2013, the majority of illegal immigrants jailed on criminal charges are simply held without bond.