When police in Paterson, New Jersey busted into the home of known Latin Kings gangster Michael Mendez last week, they were looking for drugs. What they found was a 44-year-old woman locked in a bedroom…where police suspect she may have been held captive for up to 10 years.
Police raided Mendez’s home on Thursday, where — in addition to the woman — they found 4,200 prescription pills and $22,000 in cash. While searching the apartment, they also found a bedroom door padlocked from the outside.
On the other side of the door they found Mendez’s “girlfriend,” as well as a television, a telephone, and a pail, presumably used as a makeshift toilet. Police say the woman was only let out of the room when Mendez was home.
It’s unclear exactly how long the woman was held in the apartment, but police say she was kept behind closed doors for “extended periods of time” for at least the last two years, and up to 10.
Mendez’s neighbors give the local NBC affiliate the following accounts:
“She came outside once in a blue,” said another
neighbor of Mendez’s girlfriend. She was always with him, the neighbor
said, “but they go to the car sometimes.”
Others said they sometimes saw the woman outside on her own, but only on rare occasions.
Mendez was booked on charges of kidnapping, false imprisonment and other drug-related crimes. The woman currently is receiving medical attention at an area hospital.