- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that three of four suspects arrested and charged with looting after Hurricane Ian were in the country illegally. 

“These are people that are foreigners. They’re illegally in our country, but not only that, they try to loot and ransack in the aftermath of a natural disaster,” said Mr. DeSantis, who recently has made headlines for shipping migrants from his state to sanctuary cities. “They should be prosecuted, but they need to be sent back to their home country. They should not be here at all.”

Lee County sheriff’s deputies arrested three men and one woman on charges of burglary of an unoccupied structure during a state of emergency.

The suspects include Omar Mejia Ortiz, 33; Valerie Celeste Salcedo Mena, 26; Brandon Mauricio Araya, 20; and Steve Eduardo Sanchez Araya, 20. 

Mr. Ortiz was also charged with petit larceny, the theft of something without high value. The other three suspects were charged with grand larceny. All four will face a hearing on Oct. 31 at Lee County Circuit Court.

Lee County currently has a “zero-tolerance” policy against looting and a curfew.

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Sheriff Carmine Marceno warned would-be looters about the county’s hard line against such crimes.

“I’m not playing,” Sheriff Marceno said. “We’re not playing. We have law and order and great residents will be safe and secure. We’ve had arrests on these incidents. You might walk in. You’ll be carried out.”

• Mica Soellner can be reached at msoellner@washingtontimes.com.

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