PROGRESO — A man under arrest for sexual assault escaped from police custody here and fled to Mexico earlier this month.
Adrian Edwardo Garcia, 26, is charged with one count of sexual assault, a second degree felony, and one count of escape from custody in connection with an incident that began on Aug. 3.
According to a criminal complaint, Progreso police received a call just before 6:30 a.m. Aug. 3 from a woman who wanted to report that her friend had been sexually assaulted at her home.
According to the homeowner, she and another woman — the victim — along with Garcia and two other men, had been socializing outside the home and drinking alcohol.
As the night wore on, one of the men left, while the homeowner and her boyfriend went inside for the night, leaving Garcia and the victim alone outside where they “continued drinking,” the complaint reads.
A short time later, the homeowner’s boyfriend heard screaming coming from outside the house. When he looked outside, he saw the victim, nude from the waist down, on the ground with Garcia on top of her, the complaint alleges.
Garcia fled from the scene, dropping his wallet in the process, according to the complaint.
The woman was taken to a local hospital and underwent a forensic exam. Two days later, officers took Garcia into custody when he tried to claim his lost wallet at the Progreso Police Department.
In an interview with investigators, Garcia said he had kissed the victim, and said he knew she was inebriated, the complaint reads.
Garcia also admitted “he had sex with her,” the complaint further reads, and that he shoved her to the ground after getting angry.
Progreso Police Chief Cesar Solis said offi cers are still investigating how Garcia later escaped from jail. “We do have an idea, but the public was never in any harm,” Solis said last Thursday.
Progreso police immediately alerted the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, which — through a task force partnership with the U.S. Marshals — began to search for Garcia.
Investigators soon learned that Garcia’s mother had assisted his escape by taking him into Mexico, Solis said, adding that an investigation into her actions also remains ongoing.
Garcia was located at a hotel in Reynosa, where Mexican law enforcement officials arrested him just hours after his escape, Deputy U.S. Marshal Juan Lara said via phone last Friday.
“He (Garcia) was surprised how fast he was located
and arrested,” Lara said.
Solis said investigators think Garcia escaped through an area of the police station that is not secure. A similar incident occurred in Port Isabel in 2016 when Adam Joseph Elliot assaulted officers inside the Port Isabel city jail before fleeing through the sally port — a garage door-like entrance into the building.
Elliot then carjacked a vehicle from an elderly driver before leading offi cers — from multiple law enforcement agencies — in a pursuit across several counties. He was later apprehended in Kleburg County.
After the incident, Port Isabel police — who patrol a town with a similar population size, but who have approximately twice as many officers as Progreso — invested in several upgrades to their facility, including the installation of additional surveillance cameras.
Solis said new cameras have also been added at Progreso in the wake of Garcia’s escape.
“We’ve already installed an additional six cameras in our building. We are looking at other avenues of securing our sally port,” Solis said.
The chief — who was elevated to the position shortly after the abrupt resignation of former Chief Alberto Rodriguez last month — also said he has begun restructuring staffing so that at least two officers will be on duty per shift. With only about 10 officers on the force, oftentimes only one officer was on patrol, he said.
The night of Garcia’s escape, however, two officers were on duty, Solis said.
“It might’ve been more of a design flaw,” he said of Garcia’s escape through an unsecured area of the building.
The escape comes just weeks after now-former Progreso police officer Matthew Sepulveda was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a young man he had taken into custody for a traffic violation.
Former Chief Rodriguez resigned days later, after sheriff’s investigators uncovered another victim — a teen boy — allegedly assaulted by Sepulveda just two days after the first incident allegedly occurred and was reported.
Garcia remains in custody at the Hidalgo County jail on $700,000 bond, as well as for another charge from earlier this year.
On April 12, Garcia was arrested by Mission police on a charge of indecency with a child for an incident that allegedly occurred last November.
Garcia is accused of fondling a 12-year-old child at a Walmart in Mission, according to a probable cause affidavit.
During a February interview with Mission investigators, Garcia admitted to being inside the Walmart on the day of the alleged incident, the affidavit reads.
Garcia was released from custody on a $50,000 attorney signature bond just one day after the April arrest.