- March 24, 2021
The Ocoee Police Department is asking locals for their help in confirming the safety of three missing juveniles.
Alfredo Domingo Sales, Glendy Azucena Coccaal and Ander Dudek Lorenzo Pablo all have been missing since 2022.
Sgt. Leo Gomez, of the department’s criminal-investigations division, said all three migrated to the United States from Guatemala and were placed in sponsor homes with non-relatives in Ocoee.
Through the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the department knows the parents of two of the three — Glendy and Ander — know where their children are but will not share information for fear they will be deported.
Gomez believes the children are no longer in the local community.
“It appears that they were placed here with sponsor families, not with their own families, and then they, on their own, willingly left their sponsor families more than likely to go with either an extended member of their family … or significant others that had also migrated here from Guatemala,” he said.
Gomez said the department has not been able to make contact with any of Alfredo’s family in Guatemala.
“The unfortunate reality is a lot of these families are coming from a mountainous region, where they don’t even speak Spanish,” he said. “They speak a dialect that is not familiar, and they don’t have cell phones and landlines and electricity and running water.”
Gomez said the department has no reason to believe the children didn’t come to the U.S. with the intention of being with their extended family members.
Another common factor of the three missing juveniles is “none of them were reported to us until the social workers that were in charge of them forced them to call us to report them to us,” Gomez added.
Gomez said the department’s focus is not on getting anyone in trouble or taking the children away — but instead making sure the children are safe.
“As long as they’re with other adults (who) are capable and taking care of them, and up to this point, if we would presume that they would, then there’s no reason that they wouldn’t place them with them,” he said. “Our main focus right now is making sure that they’re OK and being able to close our cases.”
From the department, Gomez said these are the only three missing juveniles locally.
“I have counterparts in several agencies around, and as far as I know and what they’re telling me, we’re the only department right now with active missing children that have migrated here from Guatemala,” he said.
Coming from the Hispanic community himself, Gomez believes there is a common misconception with law enforcement.
“In our home countries, the level of service that they receive from law enforcement isn’t what you get here,” he said. “They think they’re there as punishment. … In reality we’re trying to provide a service. We’re trying to provide education. We’re trying to provide you with the resources that you need to have a better life. … If we knew where they were and they needed services, then we could get them in contact with our partners that would be willing to help them.”
Anyone with information should contact Crimeline at (800) 423-TIPS (8477) or the Ocoee PD non-emergency number, (407) 905-3160.