Couple arrested in Portland after 5 years on lam
Sought for five years, Mississippi couple accused in abuse of adopted children are apprehended in Portland.
The Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. — A couple accused of leaving their severely injured 2-year-old daughter at a hospital and keeping their other adopted children in putrid conditions were arrested in Portland after a five-year manhunt, authorities said Wednesday.
The search for Janet and Ramon Barreto began when they skipped bail in 2009 on manslaughter and child-abuse charges. They were arrested Tuesday night after a tip led authorities to a shopping mall.
The couple left 2-year-old Ena Barreto at a Mississippi hospital in 2008, telling the medical staff she had fallen from a shopping cart, authorities said.
The girl died after she was taken to a children’s hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
The Barretos were held in the Multnomah County Detention Center in Portland awaiting extradition to Mississippi. A U.S. Marshals spokesman didn’t know whether they had an attorney.
The Barretos’ daughter Marainna Torres was convicted in Ena’s death in 2010. At her trial, she testified she feared her parents, and that they forced her to punish the children, who were mostly younger than 3, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported at the time.
Torres testified she threw the girl across the room and the child hit her head.
Authorities say the Barretos had adopted at least seven children from Guatemala beginning in 2005, and kept them inside an atrocious-smelling mobile home in New Albany, Miss.
The children were sometimes bound with duct tape and fed mostly cereal and bologna, authorities said.
“The crimes they are alleged to have committed are nothing short of horrendous and despicable, and now it is time to let justice be served,” said Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards.
While living in New Albany, the couple made money selling dogs they raised behind the mobile home, keeping hundreds of sick and injured animals in feces-filled cages, authorities said.
In 2009, while the couple faced the charges, they were free on $450,000 bond when they slipped away.
The U.S. Marshals Service said it tracked them to a town in Mexico where Ramon Barreto’s family lives, but then lost their trail.
The pair were later seen in Southern California, including at a Huntington Park rental unit they left in June 2012 when their dog sales became a nuisance.
Officials said they made money on the run by selling dogs, as well as DVDs and CDs from their van. Ramon Barreto also panhandled.
U.S. Marshal Dennis Erby said an infant with the couple when they were arrested was placed with child-protective services. He was unaware if the couple had any other children with them.
The adopted children who were with the Barretos in Mississippi were taken into state custody when the couple were charged five years ago.
The couple were hard to track because they used cash and aliases. Janet Barreto also wore wigs, authorities said.
Officials listed them among the Marshals’ top 15 fugitives, and the couple was profiled on the TV show “America’s Most Wanted.”
“We exhausted several tips from the California area that didn’t pan out with an arrest, but this one did. This one was credible,” Erby said.