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Kidnapping suspect is wife of Pittsburgh Pirates player (with video)

MANATEE - A 2-month-old infant reportedly kidnapped from Plant City has been found unharmed in Manatee County, officials said.

Plant City police have obtained an arrest warrant for the alleged abductor, Amalia Tabata, who was being questioned in Manatee, according to Dave Bristow, spokesman for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

The 43-year-old suspect is the wife of Pittsburgh Pirates minor league player Jose Tabata.

"This is an extremely serious matter, and we have given the matter our full attention," Pirates president Frank Coonelly said in a statement..

A native of Venezuela, Jose Tabata, 20, is an outfielder for the Pirates' AA team in Altoona, Pa.

"While we have received very little information at this point in the investigation, we have received no indication that Jose is believed to have any involvement in the matter," Coonelly said. "We are attempting to secure more information as quickly as possible."

The team said it would not have any further comment as long as the investigation was continuing. "We will provide whatever assistance that we can to the sheriff's office and to Jose as they deal with this matter," Coonelly said.

The Pirates are currently in spring training in Bradenton.

An Amber Alert for 2-month-old Sandra Cruz-Francisco was cancelled earlier today, after a deputy locarted Amalia Tabata and the baby at a shopping center near Manatee Community College in Bradenton.

Plant City investigators were en route to Manatee County Sheriff's Office to continue interviewing Amalia Tabata, 43.

The child's mother told the Tampa Tribune that she was in a health department clinic Monday with the girl when a woman approached. The woman said she was an immigration official, and could help the family avoid deportation if the child's mother handed over the infant.

About 1:48 p.m., someone called 911 and said that someone was at the corner of 60th Avenue West and 34th Street West with information about the Amber Alert out of Plant City.

Upon arrival, a deputy was approached by Tabata with Sandra in her arms. Tabata said "here is the Amber Alert baby," the sheriff's office said in a statement.

Paramedics responded and checked the baby's condition. They found the baby was healthy and had no medical problems, according to the sheriff's office.

An Amber Alert was issued a few hours after the child's mother reported her missing Monday evening. Rosa Sirilo-Francisco told authorities she took her daughter to the Plant City Health Department for her two-month checkup Monday around 3 p.m.

That's where she met a woman who went by the name 'Janet' and said she was an immigration official, Sirilo-Francisco told the Tampa Tribune. The woman told the infant's mother that there were officers at her home waiting to deport her and the child's father to Mexico.

Janet offered to help, but said she had to take the baby.

The two women drove with the infant to a farm where the child's father works. Janet told him the same story, and the mother later handed the child over.

Plant City police spokesman Capt. Darrell Wilson couldn't confirm the mother's account of events.

"We believe that may have been the story, but we haven't spoken with the suspect," he said.

Wilson said the parents are from Mexico, but he did not know of any active deportation proceedings against them. He said police believe Janet and Amalia Tabata are likely the same person, and that she has a criminal history that includes convictions for fraud and theft. Plant City police don't believe she is an immigration employee.

"We don't know if it's an isolated incident or not," he said.

The child was reported missing Monday at 9 p.m. and an Amber Alert was issued at midnight. Authorities credited the alert with helping generate several useful tips.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said they have launched an investigation into the matter. A spokesman wouldn't say whether she worked for the agency, citing the investigation.

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