YAKIMA, Wash. — A 15-year-old girl from Yakima is safe and 34-year-old suspect is in jail facing kidnapping charges. However, the search continues for a second suspect.
The Elko County Sheriff's Office pulled over Eric Landeros, 34, after a region-wide manhunt and AMBER Alert went into effect Monday evening. The AMBER Alert was canceled for her as of 10:19 p.m. Monday night. ECSO Patrol Deputy Loren Stevens noticed a black 2008 Lexus bearing an Arizona license plate which was associated with the alert.
The Yakima teen went out to take the garbage out from her home in Yakima at about 11:20 a.m. and did not return.
"He is suspected by police of having arranged for the young lady to be picked up in Yakima and taken to Phoenix," City of Yakima's communication director Randy Beehler told KREM 2's Morgan Trau.
Eric Landeros, 34, was only one part of the alleged kidnapping.
"We do believe that Mr. Ovante had a hand in arranging what took place yesterday," Beehler said.
She was recently recovered in Arizona with 36-year-old Daniel B. Ovante, a man who previously coerced her via social media. The man had abducted her on Sept. 5 after posing as a 19-year-old, and Phoenix police did not find her until Oct. 27.
Court documents show Ovante last year had gone to Yakima to pick the victim up. Phoenix police added that Ovante had sex with the victim in hotels on the way back to Phoenix.
Ovante has a 16-year-old daughter who told Phoenix police he and the 15-year-old had sex "every day" from Sept. 5 to Oct. 27, when they were taken into custody, according to court documents. The daughter believed the victim was 17 years old.
Ovante was then charged with nine sex crimes against the then 14-year-old. The man is a convicted felon and gang member, according to KREM 2's sister station KPNX.
He has an arrest warrant out for failing to appear. Police said it is believed he is now in Mexico, which is likely where Landeros and the victim were on their way to.
He has recently made threats to come take the girl and kill the family, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Ovante had previously been arrested and charged with seven counts of possessing a weapon by a prohibited person and one count of fraudulent schemes in 2015. Phoenix police recovered four assault-type weapons and three handguns.
"[Defendant] has ties to Mexico and access to drug money," Phoenix police said in the court documents.
They believed Ovante would flee, according to KPNX reporter William Pitts.
After paying his $150,000 dollar bond in November, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office said he skipped town. Authorities now believe their prime suspect is hiding in Mexico, as they wrote six years ago.
"He is being sought by the Arizona folks in relation to this charge from last year," Beehler said, regarding the 2020 abduction. "I hate to say it on record necessarily, but it's a fair bet that he will be sought by police [in Yakima] as well in connection with this case."
Authorities in Washington, Arizona, and Nevada say Landeros has a history of drug dealing, but was possibly just the middle man to get the minor to Ovante.
Landeros was arrested on the charges of first-degree kidnapping and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Total bail was set at $251,140.
Although she is a child and can't legally consent, the police believe the girl wanted to leave and arranged the kidnapping to take place.
The minor is at their juvenile detention center, Elko County detective Nick Stake told KREM 2'S Morgan Trau.
Elko County Sheriff’s Office deputies and investigations division are working jointly with Washington State Patrol, Yakima Police Department, Phoenix Police Department and the FBI on this investigation.