- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2009

PLANT CITY, FLA. (AP) - A woman who authorities believe abducted a 2-month-old infant from her mother at a health clinic near Tampa turned in the baby unharmed to a Florida sheriff’s office, officials said Tuesday.

Capt. Darrell Wilson of the Plant City Police Department said detectives were en route to Manatee County, where Sandra Cruz-Francisco was turned in around 2 p.m. They said they expect to charge Amalia Pereira, 43, with kidnapping and will reunite the infant with her parents.

“The child’s doing well,” Wilson said.

An Amber Alert was issued a few hours after the child’s mother reported her missing Monday evening. Rosa Sirilo-Francisco told authorities she took her daughter to the Plant City Health Department for her two-month checkup Monday around 3 p.m.

That’s where she met a woman who went by the name ‘Janet’ and said she was an immigration official, Sirilo-Francisco told the Tampa Tribune. The woman told the infant’s mother that there were officers at her home waiting to deport her and the child’s father to Mexico.

Janet offered to help, but said she had to take the baby.

The two women drove with the infant to a farm where the child’s father works. Janet told him the same story, and the mother later handed the child over.

Wilson couldn’t confirm the mother’s account of events.

“We believe that may have been the story, but we haven’t spoken with the suspect,” he said.

Wilson said the parents are from Mexico, but he did not know of any active deportation proceedings against them. He said police believe Janet and Amalia Pereira are likely the same person, and that she has a criminal history that includes convictions for fraud and theft. Plant City police don’t believe she is an immigration employee.

“We don’t know if it’s an isolated incident or not,” he said.

The child was reported missing Monday at 9 p.m. and an Amber Alert was issued at midnight. Authorities credited the alert with helping generate several useful tips.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said they have launched an investigation into the matter. A spokesman wouldn’t say whether she worked for the agency, citing the investigation.

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