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BRADENTON, Florida – On Monday, migrant worker Rosa Sirilo-Francisco was at the Hillsborough County Health Department with her 2-month-old daughter Sandra Cruz-Francisco for a routine checkup. She was approached by a woman, 43-year-old Amalia Tabata Pereira, who informed her that she was an immigration official and that they were at their home waiting to deport them to Mexico. If Sandra was handed over, Amalia told Sirilo-Francisco, she could stay in the United States.
Sirilo-Francisco left the clinic with Amalia and they rode to a nearby Sweetbay Supermarket, where Amalia informed the mother that she would help her avoid deportation. This would involve Amalia taking Sanda to Miami and then giving the girl back at 8 a.m. Thursday. Siril0-Francisco believed Amalia and handed her baby over to a stranger. When Sirilo-Francisco told a relative in Georgia what had happened, that person informed her that while our government may be a bit fucked up in some areas, it isn’t THAT fucked up. Sandra was then reported missing and an Amber Alert issued.
10 hours later, Amalia turned the baby over to Manatee County Sheriff’s Department, unharmed. She met officials at a strip mall in Bradenton after calling a tip line anonymously. She is now in jail on a 75,000 bond facing child custody, kidnapping, false imprisonment and child abuse charges. Her husband is Jose Tabata, 20, a top Pittsburgh Pirates prospect acquired from the New York Yankees’ organization in last year’s Xavier Nady/Damaso Marte trade. While his wife has invoked the right to remain silent, Jose released the following statement on Wednesday: “I was shocked to be told today that my wife has been arrested for kidnapping. I am hurt, frustrated, and confused by her actions. I have and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement officials in any way that I can. Until I have all of the facts, I cannot comment any further.”
The baby has since been reunited with her parents, and ICE has launched an investigation into Sirilo-Francisco’s immigration status as well as the baby’s father, Andres Cruz, 29. In 1999 Amalia Tabata Pereira was arrested for grand theft, forgery, arson, filing a false report and using an alias. Court records show she created fake accounts while working at Paycheck Advance, where she stole $20,000. She then staged a fire to hide her activities.
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