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ICE agent: Boyfriend is in Mexico, extradition warrant was denied

Update 12:30 p.m.

WILLMAR -- An agent from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement testified this morning that the boyfriend of Olga Marina Franco Del Cid was traced to a small village in Mexico and that federal officials were unable to secure a extradition warrant to bring him back to the U.S.

Franco faces 24 counts, including four charges criminal vehicular homicide for the deaths of four schoolchildren in the Feb. 19 school bus crash near Cottonwood. The Lyon County case has been moved to Willmar on a change of venue.

Franco's attorneys, lead by Manuel Guerrero, have been allowed to argue that the boyfriend, not Franco, was driving the minivan that crashed into the bus along state Highway 23.

Jeremy Christenson said that ICE agents used documents found during a search of Franco's trailer rented home in Minneota to correctly identify her and the boyfriend, Francisco Sangab-riel Mendoza, who had an alias of Samuel Rivera Melendrez. The agency secured an arrest warrant for Mendoza, on charges of aggravated identity theft, on Feb. 27.

ICE agents and local law enforcement, plus agents in Chicago and Texas, were unable to locate the man, but received information that he had come to Willmar, informed his sister that he was in an accident and needed money to get to Brownsville, Texas. A cousin in Texas had received a call, traced to the Chicago area, from Mendoza, Christenson said.

Christenson also testified that the sister in Willmar had received a call from Mendoza on Feb. 26 that he was in Mexico in a village along the Gulf of Mexico.

In other testimony Friday morning, a forensic scientist for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension testified that DNA samples taken from the airbags of the minivan did not match Franco's genetic profile. Rather, the samples revealed the DNA profile of an unidentified male, according to Amy Liberty.