Two Honduran ministers of a Tampa Bay area church who previously had been deported after convictions on drug charges have been indicted on charges of illegally re-entering the country, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Tuesday.
Anner Javier Maldonado-Reyes, 39, and Maria Guadalupe Maldonado, 38, each face up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted. They were described as founders of the Ministerio Internacional Jesucristo Es Mi Refugio in a news release from Middle District of Florida Acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow. The church has operated out of multiple locations in mid-Pinellas County since incorporating in 2012.
According to the release, Maldonado-Reyes, who has gone by "Jose Martinez-Reyes," "Juan Martinez" and "Padro Vargas-Monteramos," was removed from the U.S. twice, in 1999 and 2008. In 1999, he was convicted of possession of cocaine for sale in Los Angeles, the release said.
Maria Guadalupe Maldonado, who has also gone by the name "Stephanie Sanchez," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, was removed from the U.S. in 1996 after being convicted of transportation and sale of a controlled substance in Los Angeles.
Tammy Spicer, public affairs officer at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said it's unclear if they went back to Honduras at those times.
"We don't know that information," she said. "Once they are removed, they're not tracked again by us unless they are encountered again by us."
Contact Divya Kumar at [email protected] Follow @divyadivyadivya.