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Parents plead not guilty to kidnapping children from Boyle Heights

Crime, Law and JusticeCrimeKidnappingTheftMexicoJustice System

A couple accused of abducting their children from Boyle Heights and taking them to the U.S.-Mexico border have pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and other felony charges.

Enrique Felix and Rose Chairez, both 28, were arraigned Tuesday on two counts of kidnapping, four counts of child stealing and one count of first-degree burglary with a person present, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said.

The couple also face an allegation that the victims — their four children — were under the age of 14, and that Felix had "serious" prior felony convictions for making a criminal threat and drug possession. 

The pair are due back in court April 11. If convicted, prosecutors said, Felix faces nearly 50 years in state prison, Chairez nearly 20.

A statewide Amber Alert was issued after Felix and Chairez allegedly took their children — Enrique, 7; Justin, 5; and 1-year-old twins Veronica and Janet — from their grandmother's home in Boyle Heights on March 14.

The couple did not have custody of the children, police said, and had been ordered to stay away from them except for supervised visits by Los Angeles County social workers.

Authorities said Felix was also known to be "physically violent" toward Chairez and their children.

Four days later, Felix's mother contacted detectives and told them she was at the U.S.-Mexico border with the children, police said. The children were brought back to Los Angeles, and arrest warrants were issued for Chairez and Felix.

Los Angeles police said Chairez contacted detectives at the department's Hollenbeck station — which handled the case — Sunday morning and told them she and Felix were willing to surrender. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents went to the Otay Mesa crossing and detained the couple. 

Online Los Angeles County jail records showed they were booked later that day.

Both remained in custody Wednesday afternoon in lieu of $570,000 bail for Felix and $510,000 for Chairez.

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kate.mather@latimes.com

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