PORTALES (KSEL) – A Portales man was arrested late Thursday afternoon on charges of First Degree Kidnapping in connection with the missing child that was reported on Wednesday. 34-year-old Augustin Gallegos was also charged with Tampering with Evidence. The case will be presented to a Roosevelt County Grand Jury next week, at which time more charges are expected to be filed. Those charges include Child Abuse and two counts of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor. Wednesday, a 9-year-old female child was reported missing after not returning home from her school in Texico.
During the investigation, it was determined by law enforcement the child was taken in a vehicle by Gallegos, a family friend.
After a search throughout the night, the child was located locked around 7:30 a.m. Thursday, inside a storage room at a church in Portales. Gallegos admitted to transporting the child to Texas and then to Portales, knowing that law enforcement, her family and community were looking for her. The child was unharmed and reunited with her mother.
According to an investigation with Gallegos, he claimed he had taken the child to protect her from a relative who was abusing her. Following multiple interviews and investigation, the claim has not been substantiated. The investigation is ongoing, and Gallegos has been booked into the Roosevelt County Detention Center in no bond.
A pre-trial detention hearing will be held at 2:00 p.m. Friday, May 24, in District Court in Portales.