A 14-year-old Mexican girl who was taken by authorities and sent screaming to live in the United States was returned home Wednesday after DNA tests showed she is not the daughter of the Houston woman who claimed her.
The case of Alondra Luna Nunez drew international attention after a video of the distraught girl being forced into a police vehicle last week circulated in media and on social networks. There was no immediate explanation of why authorities did not confirm her identity before sending her out of the country.
The Foreign Ministry said Mexican officials were carrying out a court order to send Alondra to Dorotea Garcia, a Houston woman who claimed the girl was her daughter who had been illegally taken to Mexico by her father years ago. Alondra’s family insisted authorities were mistaken but their pleas were ignored.
“They stole my daughter,” Susana Nunez told Milenio Television on Wednesday. “I didn’t know this woman existed.”
With a court order from a judge in Texas, Mexican agents assigned to Interpol took Alondra from her middle school in the central state of Guanajuato on April 16 and transported her to a courtroom in the neighboring state of Michoacan, according to a statement from the federal Attorney General’s Office.
In court, Alondra’s parents and Garcia each presented birth certificates and gave testimony, then the judge ruled in favor of Garcia, ordering the girl into her custody, according to information from the Foreign Ministry given to The Associated Press.
The girl and Garcia went by bus to Houston, where Alondra later recorded a video, posted to social media, in which she looked calm and happy and told her parents in Mexico not to worry as they waited for results of a DNA test there.
“I’m fine. I see that the United States is nice,” she said, adding, “I don’t understand anything they’re saying, because everything is in English.”
On Wednesday, Alondra spoke to reporters in her hometown of Guanajuato, saying she was happy to be home. She said the video recorded in Houston was intended to assure her parents she was OK, even though she really wasn’t.
“She took me from my parents,” Alondra said. “I didn’t know her or Mr. Reynaldo,” she added, referring to the father of Garcia’s missing daughter.
It was unclear how the girl came to be identified as Garcia’s daughter.
In 2007, the Foreign Ministry received a claim stating that Garcia’s then 4-year-old daughter, Alondra Diaz Garcia, had been taken by her father from the U.S. and was believed to be in Michoacan. This year, Garcia went to Mexico and said she had found her daughter in Guanajuato, prompting U.S. authorities to seek the help of Interpol in retrieving her.
Meanwhile, Alondra Diaz Garcia remains missing. Reynaldo Diaz is suspected of abducting her from Houston in 2007, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. A U.S. felony warrant has been issued for his arrest.
Alondra Luna’s uncle, Ruben Nunez, said that she returned in good condition and that the family is sure to seek some kind of legal damages.
“In whatever form, they will try to sue whoever is found to be responsible,” Nunez told reporters in the airport in Leon, Mexico, after the girl’s arrival. “It’s not right what they did — take the girl just because they could.”
Associated Press writers Mario Armas in Leon and Katherine Corcoran in Mexico City contributed to this report.