MIAMI – A federal judge has begun extradition proceedings against a Spaniard accused of rape and murder in France and suspected in a series of sex crimes throughout Europe.
The suspect, Francisco Acre Montes, was arrested last month in Miami for lewd and lascivious behavior and was sitting unnoticed in a South Florida jail when a curious U.S. immigration agent saw a newspaper report on the French rape and tracked down Acre-Montes.
A French judge has named Acre-Montes, 50, the prime suspect in the 1996 rape and strangulation of Caroline Dickinson, a 13-year-old British girl at a youth hostel in Brittany, France. Now, authorities in South Florida say the 1996 French crime bears a striking resemblance to the crime Acre-Montes is accused of in South Florida, and authorities in Germany, Spain and France want to question him on a string of unsolved sexual assaults in those countries.
Acre-Montes already has a rape conviction in Germany.
Miami police say Acre Montes broke into a room at Banana Bungalow, a Miami Beach youth hostel, where he cut the underwear off and masturbated on a sleeping female victim.
"They did find semen on the sheets," said Philip Lawton of Banana Bungalow. "At that time we learned that it was probably an attempted sexual assault," he said.
The possibility that Acre-Montes' is a serial sexual predator has Miami area police also looking at other unsolved sex crimes that could be linked to him.
Acre-Montes said he plans to fight extradition to France "with everything he has," defense attorney Brian McDonald said. The lawyer said he has not seen DNA evidence that French authorities say they have matching Acre-Montes to the Dickinson killing.
"The French authorities have said that they have made DNA matches. I would have to see what that was all about before i could make any definitive comment on it," McDonald said.
Acre-Montes, meanwhile, has said he's making arrangements to get a private attorney, instead of using a public defender.
As of now, France is the only nation to make a formal request for extradition, a process could take up to a year.