MEXICO CITY — 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.
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.”
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 the court in Michoacan. A court official, who was not authorized to speak to the press, said on condition of anonymity that Alondra’s parents didn’t present proper documents.
Alondra, upon returning to Mexico, said she asked for a DNA test and the judge turned her down.
The judge who ruled on the case said it wasn’t within her duties to order a DNA test.
“We as judges are only responsible to resolve the case with respect to recovering the minor,” Judge Cinthia Elodia Mercado told The Associated Press. “We don’t do investigations or make inquiries.”
Alondra and Garcia went by bus to Houston, crossing at Laredo, Texas, with the birth certificate of Garcia’s daughter and the court order, according to the Foreign Ministry.
The ministry later intervened to request the DNA test because of the commotion the video was causing.
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.
Many things remained unclear, including who called Interpol from the U.S.
A U.S. State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said U.S. officials had encouraged “timely processing of this case through appropriate government channels.” It was not clear what further action, if any, the department might would take on the matter.
It was also 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 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.”