May 16, 2015 12:01 AM

US mom, daughter head home as Mexico judge returns custody

The Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) A Texas woman got her long-missing daughter back and headed for home, concluding an eight-year search at a Mexican court hearing a cross-border custody case that earlier mistakenly sent another girl to the U.S. against her will.

Houston resident Dorotea Garcia and 13-year-old Alondra Diaz didn't speak with reporters after the judge's ruling Friday afternoon, but they were expected to fly out of Guadalajara on Saturday morning.

At a hearing in Los Reyes, a town in the southwestern state of Michoacan, Judge Cinthia Elodia Mercado returned Alondra to Garcia, noting that DNA tests concluded the previous day showed they are daughter and mother.

They emerged from court under heavy police guard. Clad in jeans, a turquoise T-shirt and matching backpack, Alondra climbed into the backseat of a police van with her beaming mother and the two embraced.

The judge declared the case closed. "The recovery of a minor by an applicant mother has happened. This is over," Mercado said.

Alondra Diaz was taken to Mexico in 2007 by her father, Reynaldo Diaz, without her mother's consent, and her whereabouts had not been known until recently. Garcia previously indicated she would drop legal complaints against the father if she got custody.

The case gained international attention last month after Mercado erroneously ruled that 14-year-old Alondra Luna was the missing girl and ordered her turned over to Garcia.

Video recordings circulated widely of Alondra Luna screaming and desperately resisting as police dragged her away. DNA testing performed after the girl was taken to the United States showed she was not Garcia's daughter, and she returned to her real family in Guanajuato.

With a media spotlight now on the case, Reynaldo Diaz delivered the real Alondra Diaz to family members who then presented her to authorities, saying she was prepared to go live with her mother.

Garcia had an emotional reunion with her daughter this week in a courtroom in Los Reyes.

In the case of the first girl, the judge denied requests by her and her family for DNA tests, saying it was not within her authority. This time Mercado waited for DNA confirmation.

The difference in treatment prompted Alondra Luna and her parents to travel to Los Reyes to stake out the courthouse Friday and demand an apology.

"We have been here since 9 a.m. and the judge does not want to see us, nor will she open the door, and she says that if we remain here she will call police to remove us," said Susana Nunez, the girl's mother. "We want to make it clear that my girl's rights were trampled."

Nunez said the family intended to file formal complaints next week but wanted to meet face-to-face with Mercado first to express their displeasure.

"I see this as a kidnapping that was ordered by the judge," the girl's father, Gustavo Luna, said.


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