FBI expert: Fear from immigrant community may hinder search for missing Bridgeton girl

Dulce Maria Alavez
Photo credit Bridgeton Police Department
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A retired FBI agent is opining about the search for a missing Cumberland County girl and how it’s playing out as authorities enter the second week of looking for the child and her alleged abductor.

J.J. Klaver suggests, at this point, that whoever took Dulce Maria Alavez is almost certainly a stranger, which he says is a rarity. And given the location of her disappearance, finding evidence to aid in the search is difficult.

“It leads me to believe they don’t have a lot of solid leads to go on,” Klaver said. “They probably have not located very good video of the vehicle but they’re certainly going to continue to try to locate that if they can.”

It would also help if they could get a look at the driver of that red van or SUV, he added.

There's also a large number of immigrants — many undocumented — in Bridgeton, and there is a fear they will be asked about their immigration status if they contact law enforcement with a tip.

“There is reluctance and resistance to cooperate with law enforcement for fear of deportation, and that is real,” Klaver added. “Law enforcement agencies across the country struggle with this in getting members of immigrant communities to cooperate with law enforcement.”

And for all the assurances from local authorities that they’re not looking to round anyone up to deport them, it means little to people who have serious doubts about those promises.

But even as the search for Alavez continues in the area, Klaver believes it’s quietly branching out beyond our region.