NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A Virginia truck driver was arrested in Rhode Island earlier this month after police discovered a 15-year-old girl in the sleeping compartment of his tractor-trailer, according to U.S. Attorney Richard Myrus.
Naval Station Newport Police conducted a routine background check on David Romero Reyes, 50, prior to allowing him on the base, the U.S. attorney’s office said, and discovered he was wanted in Texas for felony assault on a child.
Officers detained Reyes, and upon searching his truck found the girl, who was reported missing from Virginia last July.
Reyes, according to the U.S. attorney’s office, is alleged to have had sexual contact with the girl in several states, including Rhode Island.
The girl had entered the country as an unaccompanied minor in February 2020. According to HHS documents found inside Reyes’ truck, he had identified himself as a distant relative of the girl when he picked her up from an immigration detention center in Houston.
Police later confirmed he is her distant cousin, as well as a longtime friend of her father, who lives in El Salvador.
After leaving the detention facility, the U.S. attorney’s office said the girl lived in the Houston area with her mother and other relatives for several weeks before leaving for Virginia with Reyes. There, she began living with one of Reyes’ relatives until a family member learned of their sexual relationship and contacted police.
The girl was reported missing a short time later, after Reyes allegedly picked her up and took her out of state. During the week, they traveled in trucks driven by Reyes, according to prosecutors, and on weekends, they stayed in hotels or at an apartment he rented.
Investigators found Reyes and the girl traveled through Rhode Island at least six times between February and when he was arrested on April 2.
Reyes is charged with transportation of a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity. He was ordered held, and the U.S. attorney’s office said he faces 10 years to life in prison and a lifetime of supervised release.