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Father Fears Safety Of Missing Latina Teen Who Was Last Seen With Her Homicide Suspect Mother

Los Angeles County Sheriff

A Latina teenager from Redondo Beach, Calif., a beach town edging Los Angeles, has gone missing, and authorities believe she could be with two homicide suspects, KTLA reports.

Alora Benitez, 15, was last seen on Wednesday morning in Torrance with her mother and a man, both suspects in the killing of Jeffrey Appel in Carson on Tuesday.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Appel, 32, was found dead in a car in the 400 block of East Carson Plaza Drive. An autopsy report noted that the man, from Las Vegas, died from gunshot wounds to the neck and torso. His death has been ruled a homicide, with Benitez’s mom, Maricela Mercado, 40, and her ex-husband Roman Cerratos, 39, as the main suspects.

Local police issued an Amber Alert Wednesday when they learned the girl, who is 5 feet and 2 inches tall and about 100 pounds, was last seen with the suspects.

A BMW belonging to the suspects was found in the border town of San Ysidro, though the girl, her mother and the man were not found.

Julian Benitez Jr., the girl’s father, described his daughter as “my air and my life.”

“I just need her back,” Benitez, who hosted an Easter Sunday vigil in Windsor Hills, said. “I need her back in my arms.”

During the vigil, families and friends gathered to pray for the girl’s safe return. Her dad also sent the girl a direct message.

“Alora, if you’re listening, if you see any of this: Make a run for it. Call 911. Get to a phone. Ask for help. Go where there’s a lot of people,” the father said.

Authorities are urging anyone with any information on the child’s whereabouts to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. They can also send tips anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

While Alora’s case is horrifying, it’s unfortunately not unique.

In the US alone, an estimated 460,000 children go missing every year. A majority of these youth are of color. According to Robert Lowery, vice president for the Missing Children Division of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, about 35 percent of them are Black and another 20 percent are Latinx, CNN reports. Unfortunately, while these young people were abducted, ran away and/or forced into sex trafficking in our own backyards, news of their disappearances hardly make local news, let alone national or international headlines.

Below, we highlight a sample of the countless Latina girls who are missing, some who have disappeared as recently as this month and others whose cases have remained cold for decades.

Sofia Juarez

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Sofia Juarez went missing on February 4, 2003, the day before her fifth birthday. Her disappearance, which remains unsolved, triggered Washington’s first-ever Amber alert. A 10-year-old relative reported seeing the young girl walking down the driveway with a man dressed in a black sweatshirt, black pants and sneakers. Officers considered her grandmother’s boyfriend Jose Lopez Torres, a neighbor with a record of minor sex offenses Kevin Ireland and the girl’s father as possible suspects, but no arrests have been made. Sofia’s mother died in 2009, but her family vowed to continue their search for the girl.

Haley Romero-Menendez

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Haley Romero-Menendez was last seen in her Northwest Washington, DC neighborhood on Tuesday, March 12. The Metropolitan Police Department is currently asking for the public’s help in finding the “critically missing” 16-year-old Latina. Standing at 5’5” and 130 pounds, she was last seen wearing a green hoodie and blue jeans.

Reyna Alvarado-Carrera

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Reyna Alvarado-Carrera was last seen in her Norcross, Georgia home in 2005 at the age of 13. Few details are known, but authorities believe she was abducted by a non-relative male named Jose Carlos Gatica Luna who was 34 years old at the time of the disappearance. The girl, who went by Gaby, is now 27 years old.

Sulay Andino

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Manhattan Latina Sulay Andino was last seen on March 20, 2018 at the age of 16. Standing at 5’5″ tall and 145 pounds, the girl, now 17, is believed to be in the Bronx, though there are few details around her disappearance, including what she was last wearing, who last saw her and what she was last seen doing.

Diana Alvarez

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Diana Belinda Alvarez has been missing since May 29, 2016. The girl, then 9 years old, was last seen in her Fort Myers, Fla. home wearing a short-sleeved shirt and blue shorts. Jorge Guerrero, who is currently incarcerated on possession of child pornography charges, is the prime suspect in the now-11-year-old girl’s disappearance. The girl’s mother, Rita, visited Guerrero in jail in July 2016, where the man told her that her daughter was alive but did not tell her where she was.

Henrietta Avila

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Henrietta Geck Cruz Avila went missing the summer of 1960, when she was 17 years old. She was last seen in Garden Grove, Calif., where she lived with her husband who she had dated for a month before they wed. News reports refer to the marriage as “no overwhelming success.” The summer of her disappearance, Henrietta’s parents contacted her husband, Merle, to ask where she was. He stated she had packed her bags and left him. A mysterious telegram signed “Henrietta” was sent to the family after the conversation and a collect call was made from someone claiming to be her, though they hung up as soon as her mother took the call. Henrietta’s parents hired a private investigator and offered a $1,000 reward for information on her remains, as they believed she was killed, but she, now 76, remains missing.

Alissa Albizu

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Alissa Albizu disappeared from her home in Philadelphia the night of October 16, 2015. Officials have classified her case as an “endangered runaway.” Last seen at age 13, when she was 5’2”, 112 pounds and wearing a red shirt and blue pants, Alissa, who has a tattoo on her right hand, is currently 16 years old.

Agueda Arias

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Agueda Arias disappeared from Longview, Washington at age three on November 16, 2001. The girl was last seen with her mom, Guadalupe Barajas Castro, shopping with an adult male friend. The vehicle the mother, who was pregnant at the time, was driving was found abandoned in California. Neither she nor her mother was seen again in a case authorities have said had “suspicious circumstances.” She would be 20 years old today.

Manuela Carina Caz Choc

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Manuela Carina Caz Choc, 16, was last seen June 10, 2018 in Culpeper, Virginia. The girl is believed to be with a man, named Oscar Quinich Tut, who was posing as her biological father. Manuela, now 17, was 5’0″ tall and 92 pounds at the time of her disappearance. She also had gold caps on three of her front teeth with a half moon shape in the middle and a skin condition causing discoloration on both her arms and back.

Aileen Rivera

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Aileen Rivera was last seen in Warminster, Pennsylvania on March 10, 2019. Reading police are asking for the public’s assistance in locating the missing 15-year-old. She is 5 feet 4 inches tall and about 120 pounds.

This Brazilian Father-Son Duo Were Caught Making Fake Lamborghinis And Ferraris But Honestly It’s Kind Of Amazing

Things That Matter

This Brazilian Father-Son Duo Were Caught Making Fake Lamborghinis And Ferraris But Honestly It’s Kind Of Amazing

Brazilian Civil Police

Lamborghini cars are synonymous with extravagance and dreams of wealth that are unattainable for the vast majority of people. Ferraris are also a denominator of wealth and sometimes of a midlife crisis (generally “suffered” by white dudes who need to reaffirm their masculinity by driving a fancy, roaring car).

By the amount of Italian luxury cars one is able to spot in Latin America, you wouldn’t think that the region suffers from constant economic crisis and that vast segments of the population live under the poverty line. However, the fact that some individuals are willing to spend on a car more than some people make in their whole lives speaks to the deep and wide inequalities that exist in the region.

The Brazilian police just revealed that they uncovered a secret operation in which a father-son duo were actually manufacturing fakes! Yes, you read that right. If you thought that making fake Prada and Louis Vuitton handbags that look like the real deal sounded complicated, just wait until you read this story that falls under the category of magical realism.

Lamborghinis are expensive, like REALLY expensive.

If you wonder why someone would go through the trouble of making a fake luxury car, wonder no longer. An authentic Lamborghini costs no less than $200,000 USD. Just think about this: the minimum wage in Brazil is 998 reals a month, which translates into $257.5 USD. Yes, we are talking MONTHLY wage. So you can imagine what owning a Lamborghini in Brazil, even a fake one, means in terms of what some people consider important as a definer of class and social status. 

The Brazilian police made a fantastic discovery in the region of Santa Catarina.

Credit: Brazilian Civil Police

The Brazilian police received complaints from two Italian manufacturers, Lamborghini and Ferrari. Investigations led them to  Santa Catarina, a state in southern Brazil famous for its beaches and nightlife , and about 840 miles southwest of Rio de Janeiro, where they made the arrests. 

They proudly announced the bust on social media, and guess how the cars were being sold.

Credit: PCSC_Oficial / Twitter

The Brazilian police, which is getting a boost from conservative new president Bolsonaro, proudly announced the bust on their Twitter account. As reported by Business Insider, the father-son team also used digital networks for their marketing and distribution: “The shop was offering the cars on social media for $45,000 to $60,000, which is far less than what the genuine exotic supercars cost”. 

The “company”, Autos Fibra, even had an Instagram account!

Credit: autosfibra / Instagram

Descarados! The workshop even had an Instagram account and some YouTube videos, so they were not very secretive about their operation. It makes us think of how copyright and intellectual property are legal matters, of course, but also about how the notions of originality can vary from country to country. In China, for example, making knock-offs is not necessarily seen as a bad thing, as ideas are considered communal rather than individual assets. 

They really thought this through: the level of detail in the replicas is really amazing… in a criminal kind of way.

Credit: Brazilian Civil Police

We are not condoning criminal activity here, but you got to appreciate the craftsmanship in making all this from scratch, from used car parts and without the original blueprints for the vehicles. Only a trained eye would be able to spot the difference at first glance. The Sun UK reports: “Upon raiding the operation, police discovered eight replicas which were in the process of being assembled. Photos captured by police show some of the motors covered in dust and wrapped in plastic covers. The crooks were even fitting fraudulent badges, seats and accessories emblazoned with the iconic Italian brands”. 


Everything was seized in the raid.

Credit: Brazilian Civil Police

When the police arrived they found a well-oiled (pun intended!) operation. As CNN reports: “Tools, molds, fibers and frames used to manufacture the cars were also seized during the raid, police said. The shop was owned by a father and son, who were both arrested and face criminal charges for falsifying commercial property. The pair are thought to be the largest manufacturers of bootleg luxury vehicles in Brazil”. According to the two men who were arrested, they were making “legal prototypes”. Yeah, sure! 

This has happened before elsewhere in the world.

Credit: Brazilian Civil Police

The manufacture of bootleg luxury cars is not unique to Brazil. Nine years ago in 2010, a Thai man was made famous for his ability to build replica Ferraris, Porsches and Aston Martins. Thailand is one of the epicenters of global counterfeit of replicas of luxury goods. 

Social media soon found some humor on the story of the Brazilian fake Italian supercars.

This dude, Peter Malcolm, bluntly claims that he has a Lambo: do we believe him or is he just bluffing? 

These are some cool new words that need to enter the Oxford Dictionary!

Credit: @autotestdrivers / Twitter

This news story led to the creation of some fantastic new words. “Shamborghini” and “Fauxrrari” should definitely enter the dictionary as socially acceptable words. One thing is for certain, this duo, whose identity is concealed due to legal reasons, will go down in the history of counterfeiting as infamous legends. 

And some people lauded the father-son duo as true entrepreneurs, products of Latin American neoliberalism!

Credit: CNN / Facebook

As we said before, we do not condone this criminal activity. The car industry invests millions of dollars in the manufacturing, design and distribution of its products, and hundreds of jobs depend on it. But, as some social media users pointed out on CNN’s Facebook page, we gotta give them some credit. As one Gideon K. Langat pointed out: “They are actually offering a solution to the financially challenged with taste of class”. Well, if not being able to afford an Italian luxury supercar means being “financially challenged” then we all are, aren’t we?

BTW, an American father-son duo built a Lamborghini Aventador using a 3D printer!

Credit: mototrend.com

An American dad and his son were playing video games when they suddenly decided to build a replica of one of the cars featured in the game. As The Sun UK reports: “Sterling Backus was inspired to build the supercar after his son said he liked it when they were playing video game Forza Horizon 3. But as he didn’t have the budget to buy a brand-new Aventador, valued at more than £270,000, he decided to get creative. Despite having no experience, the physicist turned to 3D printing to build the impressive motor. Over the past 18 months, the duo have spent an hour each day painstakingly gluing each panel onto the home-made chassis”. Wow, that is what we call parental dedication. This dude deserves some sort of Father of the Decade award. 

READ: It’s Been Six Months And Brazil’s President Is On A Tear Stripping Rights Away From Every Vulnerable Community

El Chapo Will Spend The Rest Of His Life Behind Bars But It’s What He Told The Judge That Everyone Is Talking About

Things That Matter

El Chapo Will Spend The Rest Of His Life Behind Bars But It’s What He Told The Judge That Everyone Is Talking About

ABC News / YouTube

A federal judge in Brooklyn, N.Y., has sentenced drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán to a term of life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 30 years for his role in leading Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel. A life sentence was mandatory; U.S. prosecutors had asked that three decades be added onto Guzmán’s punishment.

The sentence also includes a multibillion-dollar financial penalty for the wealthy drug dealer.

The former drug lord was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years.

Credit: @KCRG / Twitter

A federal jury convicted Guzmán in February, finding him guilty of a raft of serious charges, from drug crimes to a murder conspiracy. His conviction included 10 counts of crimes such as narcotics trafficking, using a firearm in drug crimes and money laundering.

The 62-year-old former drug lord was extradited from his native Mexico to the US in January 2017. The terms of his extradition included a pledge that US authorities would not seek the death penalty.

The drug kingpin has repeatedly made headlines during his criminal career — first for the vast power he ruthlessly amassed and later for his seeming ability to break out of any prison in Mexico. In 2015, he escaped from a maximum security prison for the second time, after spending more than a decade eluding Mexican authorities. He lived outside the law for an additional six months, before he was captured in a high-profile operation in early 2016.

He’s also been ordered to pay more than $12 billion for his negative impacts on the country.

Drug kingpin El Chapo was ordered to forfeit more than $12.6 billion in ill-gotten drug money today. Many are already coming out with ideas on hote government should best spend that money.

While others are pointing out the irony in the government taking drug money as if it was simply taking its cut.

El Chapo’s attorney reiterated his call for a new trial over alleged misconduct by jurors.

This case was simply an inquisition. It was a show trial, and how it ended is exactly perfect for that description,” defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman said. He said the government’s witnesses had included “lunatics and sociopaths and psychopaths” and that “up to five jurors broke the law — violated the law while they were judging Mr. Guzmán for crimes.”

After Guzmán was convicted, his defense team said the trial was tainted, claiming that members of the jury had ignored the judge’s orders not to read about the trial outside of court proceedings.

Guzmán plans to appeal, Lichtman said.

People were anxiously waiting to see if Guzmán would speak at his sentencing.

El Chapo spoke publicly for the first time since his conviction on Wednesday, complaining to a judge that his incarceration at a Manhattan lockup has been absolute “torture” before being sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years.

“I’ve been forced to drink unsanitary water. I’ve been denied access to fresh air and sunlight. The only sunlight I have in my cell comes through in the air vent,” the 62-year-old convicted drug kingpin told Brooklyn federal Judge Brian Cogan ahead of his sentencing.

Guzmán concluded his lengthy remarks by saying, “The United States is no better than any other corrupt country that you don’t respect.”

So where will El Chapo likely be spending the rest of his life?

Since he was sentenced to life, El Chapo will likely be serving that sentence in just one facility – the supermax prison just outside of Florence, Colorado. That is, of course, as long as he doesn’t successfully escape…again.

Many were just counting down the weeks or months until his third escape.

Some on Twitter pointed out that he’s already evaded authorities bascially four times now and made two high-profile escapes, including from a supposed supermax prison facility in Mexico.

Many are questioning how long it will take him and his Sinoaloa cartel to break him out of his cell in Colorado…

READ: Federal Jury Finds Drug Lord ‘El Chapo’ Guilty On All 10 Counts, Faces Life In Prison

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