Suspected human trafficker arrested after chase in Florida

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A two-year-old girl was located standing up in the back seat and a three-year-old boy emerged from the woods

The aftermath of the crash following a Jackson County Sheriff’s Office pursuit.

MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) — A high-speed chase led to the arrest of a suspected human trafficker, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

On Wednesday, deputies were working an active burglary in the area of the Dogwood Heights Community with the assistance of ACI and JCI K-9 tracking teams and the Florida Highway Patrol, deputies wrote.

While patrolling the perimeter of the scene near Watson Street, investigators observed a man that possibly fit the physical and clothing description given by witnesses to the burglary. Investigators observed the man leave a residence on Watson Street in a car.

While observing the vehicle in attempts to further identify the subject, the driver, later identified as Domingo Morales Hamilton Fernando, “rapidly and recklessly accelerated in attempts to evade the investigators,” deputies wrote.

A high-speed pursuit through the county ended at the intersection of Dogwood Drive and Old Greenwood Road when Fernando lost control of the vehicle as it went off of the right shoulder of the road, struck a series of trees, spun around, flipped over and landed upright on the left shoulder of the road.

Fernando exited the vehicle through the front passenger side window, a 17-year-old girl exited through the rear passenger side door. A two-year-old girl was located standing up in the back seat. Then, a three-year-old boy emerged from the woods that had unknowingly been ejected from the vehicle.

“The presence of the children in the vehicle was not known to investigators until the vehicle wrecked,” deputies wrote. “Sheriff Lou Roberts would like to make it known on behalf of the pursuing investigator that if it were known that children were present in the car prior to the pursuit, he would not have given chase.”

Deputies added that, “miraculously, the children were unharmed as a result of the incident, but were taken to Southeast Alabama Medical Center as a precaution.”

Fernando sustained trauma to the head and facial area as a result of the crash and was flown to Southeast Alabama Medical Center as well where he is in critical condition.

Fernando was identified through the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be in the United States illegally and currently has an outstanding final order for removal from the United States. Fernando was currently avoiding apprehension on this order.

“Agents referred to Fernando as a “bad dude”, indicating that he is suspected of being involved in Human Trafficking and smuggling into the United States illegally,” deputies wrote. “A warrant has been issued for Fernando’s arrest upon his release from medical care.”

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