A release from Cherokee County Sheriff Derrick Palmer said that someone filed a complaint with investigators in January about an assault involving a child. The suspect was later identified as 39-year-old Benito Morales Mendez, officials said in a news release.
“In January 2020 a complaint was made with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office of an allegation of sexual assault involving a minor child,” said the office. “Pursuant to this allegation, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation which identified Mendez as suspect in the case.”
Mendez was later charged with sexual assault of a child, among other charges, in late September. His bond was set at $500,000 by a local magistrate judge.
The sheriff’s office said that when detectives attempted to arrest Mendez after an arrest warrant was issued, he had already fled from North Carolina. They later determined that he was not a legal citizen of the United States.
“Mendez has [an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement] Detainer which has no bond,” the department said. “Mendez is expected in Cherokee County District Court October 1, 2020 for his first appearance.”
The department requested assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service and Department of Homeland Security, which aided in locating Mendez months later in Texas, where he allegedly fled.
“Mendez refused to waive extradition and a Governor’s warrant was issued and Mendez was brought back to Cherokee County where the North Carolina warrants were served on him,” said the department in the release.
“As you can see it takes a team effort and one of the reasons we work so closely with our local and Federal partners. Due to the age of the victim, we will not be making any further press releases,” Palmer later noted.