Baby Brandon kidnapping: Woman arrested in case deported 3 times to El Salvador, DHS says

Yesenia Ramirez allegedly befriended the baby's grandmother at church.

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Sunday, May 8, 2022
1 suspect in SJ baby kidnapping deported 3 times, says DHS
ICE has issued a detainer on Yesenia Ramirez, one of the suspects accused of kidnapping 3-month-old Brandon Cuellar in San Jose last week.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has issued a detainer on one of the suspects accused of kidnapping 3-month-old Brandon Cuellar in the San Francisco Bay Area last week.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, Yesenia Ramirez has been deported three times to El Salvador -- once in 2018 and twice in 2019. She is currently being held without bail at the Santa Clara County Jail.

VIDEO: Baby Brandon's mother speaks out about abduction, reuniting with 3-month-old son

California is a sanctuary state, which means police are barred from asking people about their immigration status or participating in federal immigration enforcement activities. Jail officials are only allowed to transfer inmates to federal immigration authorities if they have been convicted of certain crimes.

Ramirez, 42, allegedly befriended 3-month-old Cuellar's grandmother at church, and that's when she became "obsessed" with the boy, according to the family.

Last week, Ramirez and 28-year-old Jose Roman Portillo allegedly worked together to kidnap the baby while the grandmother was unloading groceries at their San Jose home.

Cuellar was reported missing on Monday and found 20 hours later, just over six miles away from his home.

Ramirez and Portillo are charged with kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, child abduction and home invasion, announced Sgt. Christian Camarillo in a news conference Wednesday morning. He said those charges may change.

RELATED: Suspect met 3-month-old's grandma through church, became 'obsessed' with him, family says

Santa Clara County District Attorney District Attorney Jeff Rosen told reporters most child abduction cases handled by his office come from custody disputes between parents.

"This one did not," he said. "This is more unusual and more frightening."

The DA said a search warrant served on Ramirez's home found things like baby formula and diapers.

Still, he said his office is not sharing the motive behind what happened.

"The 'why' is not something that we're going to discuss," he said. "The 'why' will come out in this case at a preliminary hearing, we put our evidence forward to hold the suspects in custody and have a trial."