By Patrick Markey
Law enforcement officials investigating a pattern of sex attacks on Irish immigrants living in Queens believe the suspect in four of the assaults may have fled the country. Prosecutors, meanwhile, press ahead with the case against a second suspect in custody.
Queens detectives have contacted international police agencies, including Interpol, as they expand their hunt for Cesar Vicuna, an Ecuadorian livery cab driver they believe is responsible for at least four attacks in Woodside.
"We believe he’s out of the country," said one detective involved in the investigation.
During a 13-month sex-attack spree, six victims were assaulted as they tried to catch a ride in private livery cabs in the early-morning hours.
In several cases, the victims left Irish bars alone and were attacked in the back of the vehicle after falling asleep. Alcohol played a part in several of the assaults and the victims were either beaten or choked.
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Police said four victims have identified Vicuna from a photo lineup and investigators have DNA evidence linking the first four assaults.
News of Vicuna’s flight overseas came as investigators released a photo of the man they have charged in the two latest assaults.
Cops had initially investigated whether that suspect, livery cab driver Jamie Oliveira, had been responsible for the all six assaults. But they now believe he is responsible for only the last two attacks, said the investigator involved in the case.
A Corona resident, Oliveira was picked up on Aug. 22 after cops spotted him loitering nearby the location of earlier attacks. A partial license plate reading given by one of the victims linked Oliveira to the two attacks and one of the victims has identified him as her assailant, police said.
Oliviera has confessed to the two most recent assaults and prosecutors are set to indict him on charges of rape, attempted rape, kidnapping, sexual assault, sexual abuse and unlawful imprisonment. He is being held on $150,000 bail.