Aug. 27 — Police said that even after authorities warned a 24-year-old Brownsville man to stay away from a 14-year-old boy, the man continued to approach the teenager, which eventually led to his arrest.
Andre Franco was arrested Thursday on a stalking charge, but it wasn’t his first arrest related to the teenage boy, Brownsville police said. He was also charged with telephone harassment, criminal trespass and harboring a fugitive and enticing a child, authorities said.
Franco remained incarcerated Friday in a Cameron County jail on a $25,000 bond on the stalking charge. His bonds were revoked on the other charges, Detective Martin Sandoval, a spokesman for the Brownsville Police Department, said Friday.
“I don’t know why he was so enamored with this juvenile. After the judge told him to stay away and everything, he still decided he wanted to be a part of it,” Sandoval said.
Franco’s meetings with the 14-year-old boy began in the early morning hours of July 31, 2022, when he texted the teenager and convinced him to leave the house, Sandoval said. Franco gave the teenager directions on how to get out of the house and met him at a window, police said. He also told the teenage boy to leave a note for his parents telling them he didn’t want him home, according to police.
Franco and the teenager ended up at a friend’s house downtown, and the friend became concerned and started asking questions, Sandoval said. Franco and the boy left that home and went to a nearby church where the pastor recognized the teenager and called police, officials said.
According to Sandoval, the pastor knew the teenager and his parents and knew the boy was a runaway. Brownsville police went to the church and arrested Franco on charges of harboring a runaway and luring a child.
Officers found a bag of clothing belonging to the juvenile and a Tae Kwon Doe bag belonging to Franco, who said he was a Tae Kwon Doe instructor, police said.
Nineteen days later, on Aug. 19, Franco returned to the boy’s home, going into the backyard, police said. Police were dispatched to the area and arrested him on trespassing charges, Sandoval said. The boy’s parents told police that Franco was “trying to make contact” with their son, officials said.
On Aug. 21, Franco continued to try to contact the teenager by messaging him through social media, police said. The teenager told him to leave him and his family alone, but that didn’t stop Franco, Sandoval said. She continued to text the boy and told him that once he turned 18, he would get better, police said.
The boy told his parents, and police arrested Franco on a charge of telephone harassment and told him to stop texting the boy, Sandoval said.
On Thursday, August 25, the police department’s Special Victims Unit issued a warrant against Franco charging him with stalking. He was being held at the Carrizales-Rucker Detention Center on the previous charges.
Sandoval said this wasn’t the first time Franco preyed on an underage boy. There were two previous cases involving juvenile males that he had been associated with, he said. He said that in the first case the parents were able to stop everything that was happening because of the messages, so there was nothing substantiated, but in the second case Franco had been accused of unwanted touching.
Police, after obtaining warrants, will search Franco’s cellphone and social media accounts for pornographic messages or photos, authorities said. “If we find images or anything similar of minors, of course we will increase the charges,” Sandoval said.
Authorities said the investigation is ongoing.
“He’s telling these kids they’re Ninjas because they’ve been in Japan for two years,” Sandoval said. He said police could not find any Tae Kwon Doe license for Franco.