Man accused of taking 11-year-old 'girlfriend' to Mexico is extradited to U.S.

Article author: 
Kaellen Hessel
Article publisher: 
Statesman Journal
Article date: 
Friday, December 18, 2015
Article category: 
Oregon Issues
Article Body: 

Back in 2007, a 19-year-old man was accused of taking an 11-year-old girl, who he called his 'girlfriend,' to Mexico. Ever since, Keizer police officials have been working to have him stand trial in Oregon.

After eight-and-a-half years of investigation, Raul Xalamihua-Espindola, now 28, has been extradited to the United States. He's facing four counts of first-degree rape, one count of first-degree custodial interference and one count of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution in Marion County Circuit Court.

The investigation began on April 6, 2007 when the Keizer Police Department received a report that an 11-year-old girl left a note for her parents saying she ran away with her boyfriend, identified by police as Xalamihua-Espindola.

The note said not to worry about the girl's well-being, but it didn't match her handwriting, according to an affidavit filed in August 2007.

Her mother had last seen her the day before.

The girl's friends told police she had a boyfriend name "Raul." Police determined a man of that name lived in the same apartment complex as the victim. Residents of the apartment listed as his address said he hadn't been there since April 5, according to court records.

Cell phone records showed that the suspect's phone had been used outside of Oregon following the girl's disappearance. The National Center For Missing & Exploited Children created a flier that was given to law enforcement agencies along the US-Mexican border.

The suspect's brother-in-law told police he spoke to the victim on the phone April 8. He told the suspect police were looking for the girl. The suspect replied he would return her within two hours, but did not, according to court records.

Within five days of the girl's disappearance, Xalamihua-Espindola was indicted on the custodial interference charge. On May 1, 2007, investigators confirmed both Xalamihua-Espindol and the girl were in Zongolica, Vera Cruz, Mexico, according to a press release.

Special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation began working with the Mexican government to recover the victim and apprehend Xalamihua-Espindol.

On Aug. 13, 2007, Judge Tracy Pall granted the Marion County District Attorney's Office motion to give Keizer Police Department and the FBI temporary custody to retrieve the girl. Although the girl's parents were legally residing in the United States, their immigration status did not allow them to leave the country and legally return, according to court records.

Although the child was a Mexican national and didn't have a passport, then-Deputy District Attorney Courtland Geyer wrote in an affidavit that it appeared "responsible federal authorities" would authorize her return.

On Sept. 4, 2007, the victim was safely recovered. On Sept. 18, a Keizer police officer and FBI agent flew to Mexico City to take her into protective custody. She returned home to Keizer that same day, officials said.

Xalamihua-Espindol eluded capture until about two years ago.

Since then, Xalamihua-Espindola, a Mexican citizen, has been incarcerated in a Mexican prison while appeals were being litigated regarding his extradition to the United States to stand trial.

On Dec. 15, 2015, Xalamihua-Espindola was taken from Portland International Airport to the Keizer Police Department. He was interviewed and then taken to the Marion County jail.

He was arraigned before Senior Judge Rita Batz Cobb Dec. 16. He's being held without bail and is scheduled to appear before Judge Donald Abar at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 29 at the Marion County Circuit Court Annex, 4000 Aumsville Highway SE.

Throughout the course of the investigation, the following agencies worked together: Keizer Police Department, Mexican government, U.S. Department of Justice, the Portland office of the U.S. Attorney's Office, FBI, The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Marion County District Attorney's Office and Port of Portland Police Department.