A wanted Sanders County man is in custody after allegedly fleeing to Central America with his young son.
According to information from the Department of Justice, Jacob Strong, 36, of Heron, is charged with conspiracy and international parental kidnapping. He pleaded not guilty to the charges Aug. 19 during his arraignment in Missoula before US Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto.
Strong faces a maximum of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. He remains in custody.
Strong was located earlier this summer in Costa Rica and arrested on an unlawful flight to avoid prosecution warrant. Following his arrest, he was transported by Costa Rican immigration officials to Miami where he was taken into custody by agents from the FBI Miami Field Office.
Strong’s 4-year-old son was also safely located and has since been reunited with his mother.
Strong’s mother, Candace Bright, was also dictated on two counts of conspiracy to commit international parental kidnapping and false statements. Bright, who lives in Andrews, Texas, was arraigned on June 28.
According to the FBI, on Aug. 19, 2021, the Sanders County Sheriff’s Office conducted a welfare check on Strong and his son following Strong’s failure to meet the child’s mother for a custodial exchange in Thompson Falls.
According to court documents, a Sanders County deputy investigating Strong’s whereabouts following the missed custodial exchange noted that people who knew Strong said he had been talking about buying a boat and sailing.
Documents also note that Strong allegedly sold his and his ex’s house without his ex’s knowledge, and violated an economic restraining order on the marital assets. Strongly alleged left Montana just prior to a court date where a decision on marital property and assets was to be finalized.
Following the missed court date, an emergency order was issued giving the mother full custodial rights to their son.
Numerous law enforcement and partner agencies were involved in this investigation to include the US Attorney’s Office, District of Montana, Montana Department of Justice, FBI El Paso, FBI Legal Attache Panama City, FBI Seattle, Sanders County Prosecutors Office, Sanders County Sheriff’s Office, and FBI Miami.
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