WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- A suspected child predator is in custody in Polk County a year and a half after Sheriff Grady Judd says he fled the country.
Judd called what Mendez did unimaginable. He said Mendez sexually abused a little girl when she was 9, 10 and 11-years-old. Investigators said he eventually got her pregnant, and when he realized they were on to him, Mendez grabbed his paycheck from work and took off to Guatemala.
It took six different agencies, including the Polk County Sheriff's office and the FBI, to bring Rony Mendez back to the states.
“He fled like a coward, and he came back in handcuffs,” Judd said.
With boots on the ground in Guatemala, the FBI, Guatemalan police and other agencies tracked Mendez down to a remote village and arrested him in April. Finally, this week he was extradited to the U.S.
“When we say we will go to the ends of the earth in order to arrest you, please understand that's exactly what we did,” Judd said.
Terry Rahl of the FBI said that may seem like a long time, but it’s not compared to other international extraditions.
Mendez is being held at the Polk County Jail with no bond.
“Our goal is for you to be here in the states in the prison for the rest of your life,” Judd said.
He said the victim is doing well, considering everything she has been through. She's now 13-years-old, and her family is taking care of her 1-year-old baby.