Many states and counties have set up checkpoints to limit travel during the coronavirus, but a Florida man and his companion are accused of developing a plan to dodge the new restrictions. Alexander Michael Sardinas, 37, allegedly kidnapped a 17-year-old girl he encountered at a Publix parking lot and threatened her so she would take him and a 43-year-old woman to the Florida Keys, according to police.
Sardinas was arrested Thursday and charged with kidnapping/false imprisonment in relation to the incident. “I am relieved this suspect is currently sitting in jail and the young victim in this case was not seriously hurt,” Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said in a statement.
Sardinas, of Tavernier, and the woman, of Islamorada, both live in the Keys, but when they were trying to enter the Keys in a ride-share taxi, neither of them had the proper identification and were turned away, according to the Monroe Sheriff’s Office.
They began arguing at the side of the road and a Florida Highway Patrol Trooper gave them a ride to Florida City as a courtesy, authorities said.
The pair then went to a Publix grocery store in nearby Homestead and spotted a teen driver with Monroe County license plates and a re-entry sticker on her windshield. Sardinas then allegedly ordered her to drive the pair through the checkpoints into the Florida Keys, she told authorities. The girl said she was threatened with violence if she didn’t do as she was told and was threatened her if she touched her phone, officials said.
When they arrived to the checkpoint, she spoke to the deputies without alerting them to trouble, cops said.
After passing the checkpoint, Sardinas got out of the car at a gas station while the teen dropped the woman at a pharmacy. The teen then called a family member who contacted law enforcement.
Authorities were able to track down Sardinas and the woman, who were positively identified in a line up by the teen. Both of them allegedly gave conflicting stories, but neither denied being in the car with the teen, cops said.
There may be more arrests and charges related to this incident, authorities said.