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Mexico Helps in Getting Abducted Children Home

June 05, 2003|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

Working with Mexican authorities, the Riverside County district attorney's office has recovered four young boys this year who were allegedly abducted and taken to Mexico by their fathers in violation of court custody agreements, officials announced Wednesday.

In one case, twin boys were taken to the state of Zacatecas two years ago, and in the second, two brothers were hidden in Michoacan for five years.

"We want to get the word out to those in our Spanish-speaking community that we can do this," said Eileen Hunt, chief deputy district attorney of the district attorney's child recovery unit. Riverside County has had two of the four successful child recoveries from Mexico out of 51 cases pursued in California, according to the district attorney's office.

The twins taken to Zacatecas were returned to their mother in her Riverside County home in late March, Hunt said. In the other recovery, two boys under age 10 were returned to their mother in California.

The investigators worked with Mexican law enforcement and court officials to track down the children and take them into custody. The boys were then transported back to the U.S.

The unit was assisted by the state attorney general's office and the Mexican Consulate while operating under the authority of the Hague Convention treaty between the countries -- laws that provide for the return of children abducted to foreign countries.

The unit has at least one active case but is encouraging people to come forward if they are aware of children illegally abducted to Mexico.

"We've got an aggressive unit," Hunt said. "This was great work by our investigators, who kept the calls going between agencies and in the case of the twins worked very stridently to make contacts and build relationships. That's what paves the way when you're dealing with a different government, a different country."

Hunt said the mother-and-child reunions took place at Los Angeles International Airport.

She said the fathers remain in Mexico and called extradition attempts "another bag of worms."

"Our primary concern was recovering these kids," Hunt said.

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