PROVIDENCE, R.I. — David Romero Reyes, 50, of Stafford, Virginia, appeared April 19 in federal court in Providence, Rhode Island, on a criminal complaint charging him with transportation of a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity and was ordered detained, according to Acting United States Attorney Richard B. Myrus, Newport Naval Station Police Chief Lieutenant Ruben Gutierrez, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division Joseph R. Bonavolonta, and Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police Colonel James M. Manni.
Reyes has been in state custody since April 2, when a routine background check conducted prior to being allowed entry to the Naval Station at Newport, Rhode Island, determined that he was wanted in Texas for felony assault of a child. During the investigation, the Naval Station Newport Police discovered a 15-year-old girl in the sleeping compartment of the tractor-trailer. The girl was reported missing from her Virginia home in July 2020, when she was 14 years old.
The girl entered the United States as an unaccompanied minor in February 2020. She was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and placed in a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) facility. HHS documents found in the truck indicate that in May 2020 she was removed from a Houston, Texas, HHS-funded facility by Reyes, who, according to HHS documents, identified himself as the girl’s distant relative. An FBI and Rhode Island State Police investigation determined that Reyes, a longtime friend of the girl’s father, who lives in El Salvador, is a distant cousin of the girl.
According to court documents, the girl lived in the Houston area with her mother and other relatives for several weeks after leaving the immigration detention center before leaving Texas to travel to Virginia with Reyes, where she began living with a relative of Reyes. When a family member discovered that Reyes and the girl allegedly had a sexual relationship, the family member reported Reyes to law enforcement. Shortly thereafter, in July 2020, the girl left the home on a bicycle and was picked up nearby by Reyes. She was reported missing and had not been seen since. According to court documents, during the week the two travelled together in trucks driven by Reyes during the week, and stayed at hotels or an apartment rented by Reyes on weekends.
According to court documents, during interviews with law enforcement, Reyes and the now 15-year-old admitted to traveling together and engaging in sexual contact in multiple states. Investigators determined that Reyes, using the name David Romero, traveled in or through Rhode Island on at least six dates between Feb. 1, 2021, and April 2,2021, the date of his arrest.
Transportation of a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity is punishable by statutory penalties of 10 years to life imprisonment and lifetime federal supervised release.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John P. McAdams.featuredfea