By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Janet and Ramon Barreto’s chief Mississippi searcher is empty-handed today but convinced a recent California dragnet will pay off.
“We continue to search for them,” says Chris Felix, U.S. Marshals Service supervisor for the region’s fugitive task force. “We’re much closer than we were.”
Felix is home in Oxford after last week’s door-to-door canvass in the Los Angeles suburb of Maywood, where reports originated about the former Union County couple.
They reportedly were seen selling dogs and DVDs from a van in retail parking lots.
The Barretos left their trailer home near New Albany in May 2009, a year after the death of their 2-year-old adopted daughter, Enna, one of several children they adopted from Guatemala.
After they made bail, they eluded law enforcement and probably escaped to Mexico, authorities say.
They still face multiple charges including manslaughter by culpable negligence, child abuse and child endangerment. Janet Barreto also faces a witness tampering charge.
If convicted on all these charges, they could spend the rest of their lives in prison.
“We’ve got new information – great information – and we’ve closed off a lot of their sources,” Felix said Monday.
Unfortunately, he added, they don’t have the Barretos yet.
The couple’s legal visibility rose dramatically a few weeks ago when Janet Barreto was added to the Marshals’ Top 15 Fugitives list, which includes a $25,000 reward for information leading to her arrest and conviction.
Felix says he’s been really surprised at how well the Barretos have avoided capture, especially since they apparently never were involved in criminal activity.
“We’re doing everything we can,” he added. “They will not have safe harbor anywhere in the U.S.”
He declined to speculate on whether they’ve taken shelter in Mexico, where Ramon has family.