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Father exposed kids to sex-trade workers, drugs while hiding in Mexico

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Two abducted Winnipeg children were exposed to sex-trade workers, drugs and alcohol while being kept in deplorable conditions by their father during four years hiding out in Mexico.

Kevin Maryk appeared in court today to be sentenced for one of the province’s most notorious missing persons case.

The Crown is seeking a five-year prison sentence, which is half the maximum 10-year sentence allowed by law on the charge of abduction. Maryk is asking for 25 months of time served in custody and an immediate return to the community. Sentencing arguments are set for the entire day.

Crown attorney Debbie Buors outlined the facts of the crime, saying the two child victims were kept in deplorable conditions. They spoke of being given "tequila wine", partying with young Mexican girls who worked in the sex-trade and being exposed to criminals while being taught by Maryk that police are "corrupt and can be paid off."

Dominic Maryk, now 13, and Abby Maryk, now 11, vanished without a trace while on a court-authorized visitation with their father in August 2008. They wouldn't be located until May 2012 in Guadalajara.

Since his arrest, Maryk has been caught writing letters to family members and friends in which he speaks about having money hidden away and plans to eventually return to Mexico with his children.

He even encourages friends to spy on the children while he is locked up.

"Find them so I know where they are," he wrote in one seized prison letter, which was read aloud in court by the Crown today. In another he suggests using a telescope to spy on the children while scoping out Winnipeg schools they may be attending.

The children’s mother, Emily Cablek, was in court for the hearing. She presented a victim impact statement in the form of a videotaped interview she did with police. Cablek described the ongoing fear that Maryk will strike again.

"I don’t know what he will do. He’s so unpredictable and really doesn’t care about the law," she said.

Cablek also described the emotional trauma both she and her children have suffered, including how difficult it has been to adjust to getting them back.

Both children were denied education, medical or dental care or even friends while living under bogus identities in Mexico, repeatedly moving and being kept in homes surrounded by barbed wire and guard dogs.

Another accused has previously been sentenced. Robert Groen, 43, pleaded guilty earlier this month to abduction for his role in what was described as a complex criminal plot. He was given one year in jail. The Crown had asked for four years.

Groen is a longtime neighbour, friend and business partner of Kevin Maryk. He was asked to help in a kidnapping plot in the summer of 2008, shortly after the Court of Queen's Bench ordered full custody to Emily Cablek, the mother of Dominic and Abby. Maryk was only to be allowed scheduled supervision, which angered him.

Maryk fled with the kids to Mexico and was joined by his nephew, Cody McKay. Groen stayed behind in Winnipeg but played a vital part in the conspiracy.

McKay, 24, is now wanted on a warrant but has evaded arrest. He is believed to still be hiding in Mexico.

In letters seized by prison officials, Maryk told family members how McKay was selling large volumes of drugs in Mexico to help support their life there. He also warns that McKay is likely going to face a life sentence in Mexican prison if he is arrested.

Groen began a series of money transfers in November 2008, sending more than US$30,000 through Western Union to Maryk. Groen was reported missing by his wife and parents in February 2011. They discovered Groen had emptied out his bank account, sold $30,000 worth of jewelry, sold the car he was driving that was owned by his parents and even sold a $4,000 rare-stamp collection.

Groen had flown to Mexico, where he lived with Maryk, McKay and the two abducted children between February 2011 and May 2012, providing financial assistance.

Police rescued Dominic and Abby, and arrested Groen and Maryk, after tips began pouring in about a family living in Mexico. Winnipeg police had distributed videos of the case, including one dubbed into Spanish, to Mexican businesses and media outlets.

One neighbour recognized Maryk from the tattoos on his arm, court heard today.

Maryk was described as an aggressive, violent individual. Police found drugs and pornography inside the home during the raid, court was told.

Police nearly caught Maryk in late 2009 after discovering his hide-out, but he managed to escape with the children and move to another location.

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