A police-involved child sex scandal has sparked outrage across South Miami, a municipality in Miami-Dade County.
South Miami Police Detective Joe Mendez, age 47, was arrested without incident at his home Tuesday morning, and booked into the Broward County Jail.
Mendez was charged with eight counts of child porn and four counts of serving alcohol to a minor. His bond has been set at $42,000.
Police say thousands of images of naked underage girls were found on Detective Mendez’s cell phone. Even worse, eight of those images were of children performing sexual acts.
Detective Mendez has been under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for more than a year, specifically since June of 2014. The South Miami Police Department requested that the FDLE investigate Mendez after receiving complaints of alleged sexual abuse involving minors.
He was head of the Police Explorers Program, which gave teens an inside look at police work. Several minor females that accused Mendez of inappropriate sexual contact with them made statements. Evidence has also been collected that backs up the minors’ statements.
Mendez confessed to agents that he bought the girls alcohol to loosen up and get “fresh ideas” for the Explorer competitions.
The arrest warrant indicates that Mendez picked up one of the cadets and told her they were going to play a game called “dare double dare.”
He dared her to flash him her breast but she said she wasn’t comfortable doing that, so Mendez told her she’d have to drink. Mendez brought the young girl wine, but she refused to drink it.
South Miami Police Sgt. Henry Guzman mentioned:
“We’re very proud of the police officers who are out there doing what they’re supposed to be doing and a day like this is a sad day because we’re such a positive and really great police department, we try to always show professionalism at all times, it’s something that we don’t condone.”
According to Local 10:
A federal law enforcement source told Local 10 News that Mendez’s father, Joe Mendez Sr., was also on a federal drug task force and was terminated for having “relations” with female maintenance workers. A source close to the family said the elder Mendez was forced to retire after signing off on the workers’ overtime.
On Wednesday, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Mendez Sr. retired after an internal affair investigation into allegations of “insubordination, harassment and conduct unbecoming were sustained.”
Agents said the younger Mendez had child pornography on his cellphone and gave alcohol to underage girls.
“He told us he was having some marital issues, and that’s why he spent so much time with those kids,” a close acquaintance told Local 10 News.
Below is a news video from 2011 on the South Miami Police Explorer Program where Mendez makes a presence and provides commentary starting at :54.
Sex Crimes Common with Cops
As sick as this circumstance is, police sexual misconduct involving minors is very common. Last week PINAC reported on a Florida “Officer of The Year” that was arrested for possessing thousands of child pornography videos, and viewing them in his patrol car on duty.
It is truly sad and gripping that trusted officers of the community they serve act so lawless and reckless with children. Let us not forget that these children are loved by parents’, and sexual assault of any kind is a parents worst nightmare.
In a similar case a Southern California police officer molested a minor Police Explorer Scout.
Connecticut Officer William Ruscoe was recently sentenced to 30 months in prison for sexual exploitation of a minor.
A Las Vegas Officer was arrested for sexual lewdness with a minor and kidnapping.