NewsPalm Beach CountyRegion C Palm Beach County


Palm Beach County sheriff says federal government putting 'American people in jeopardy' with border security

3 undocumented immigrants kidnapped, involved in sexual assault of woman near Lake Worth Beach, sheriff's office says
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw speaks at a news conference on March 13, 2024.jpg
Posted at 11:17 AM, Mar 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-14 01:52:41-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County's sheriff on Wednesday called for stronger security at the U.S.-Mexico border after the arrests of three undocumented immigrants who authorities said kidnapped and one of them sexually assaulted a woman near Lake Worth Beach.

Ric Bradshaw's message was concise and clear about the assault of a woman twice in a pickup truck near John Prince Park.

"For them to be in this country, to be able to commit these types of crimes, is unconscionable," Bradshaw said. "The federal government has put the American people in jeopardy."

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He added: "Don't think for a minute that what happens at the Mexican border doesn't affect us here. Here you have three illegals that should've never been in this country that committed a very serious crime — kidnapping and sexual battery of a lady. They shouldn't be here."

WATCH: Sheriff Ric Bradshaw speaks about undocumented immigrant arrests

Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw speaks about arrests of undocumented immigrants

The victim was able to escape the attack and flag down help nearby, according to the arrest report.

A relative of the victim spoke to WPTV reporter Chris Gilmore on Wednesday.

The woman said her relative "can't stop crying and doesn't want to go outside."

She said the suspects involved "all deserve to go to prison."

"If they're deported, they can come back," she said.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said Andres Felipe Morales, 29; Darinel Ordonez Jimenez, 30; and Marcos Felipe Ramirez, 31, all from Guatemala and residing in Lake Worth Beach, abducted the woman at 1 a.m. Monday in a residential area in the 5000 block of Lake Osborne Drive, just west of Interstate 95.

Three undocumented immigrants from Guatemala arrested. March 12, 2024.png
Three undocumented immigrants from Guatemala arrested.

Felipe Morales is facing charges of sexual assault and false imprisonment, while the others are being held on two counts of felony criminal conspiracy. Their bond is $200,000 each.

According to the heavily redacted arrest report, the woman was walking to a gas station on Second Avenue and was encountered by the men. She described a "rapist," later identified as Morales, was driving the vehicle. She told detectives the first sexual assault was across the street from a food market next to a gas station on Melaleuca Lane and Congress Avenue.

She said she was sexually assaulted by two others outside the pickup, including one filming the incident.

The pickup then went southbound on Congress Avenue and made a left turn on Lantana Road.

She said the second sexual assault was on Lake Osborne Drive next to the lake.

After getting away from the pickup, she flagged down a driver. The victim went to Wellington Regional Medical Center.

Detectives tracked a pickup truck that matched the description. There were three men inside. The victim then identified the trio.

A woman was abducted near John Prince Park west of Lake Worth Beach and sexually battered, PBSO says. March 12, 2024
A woman was abducted near John Prince Park west of Lake Worth Beach and sexually battered, PBSO says.

Bradshaw on Wednesday said the men "in all likelihood" came through the Mexico border. He criticized the federal government for not bolstering the southern border enough, calling undocumented immigration the worst he's seen in 52 years in law enforcement.

Bradshaw, who has been sheriff since 2004, said the trend has only gotten worse in his 52 years of law enforcement.

The sheriff added that PBSO's intelligence sector, which works closely with the FBI, said the most dangerous gangs in the world are in Miami after coming here from Venezuela.

"They're not gonna stay just in Miami," Bradshaw said. "They're gonna go where they need to go to do what they do. They don't know if it's Dade, Broward, Palm Beach County. They just go to do what they're gonna do. And we're gonna have to deal with them."

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Bradshaw isn't the only Florida sheriff to call out border security in recent months.

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder visited the U.S.-Mexico line in February and described what he saw as being close to a state of emergency, calling for the federal government to send more resources to the southern border.

The three men remain in the Palm Beach County jail, but the community where it happened still has neighbors talking.

"This is a big danger that could happen to me or to any of the neighbors," Oscar Otero said. "It's very bad."

People like Otero, born in Cuba but immigrated to the U.S. from Spain in 1998, said there's a right way to go about entering the country.

"I did everything following the rules," Otero said. "I had the help of my brother who made the petition originally 40 years ago."