Monday, June 17, 2024

Missing 2-year-old found alive and well 44 days after abduction

The case of a toddler abducted on June 30 from a market in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, had a happy ending Thursday when authorities rescued the child and returned him to his mother.

“I’m happy, content,” Juana Gómez said after being reunited with her son, Dylan Esau Gómez Peréz. “My little one is now with me. Everything’s going very well.”

Dylan, 2, was last seen at the Mercosur market in San Cristóbal, where his mother and grandmother were working at different stalls.

The case was highly publicized after his mother approached various authorities with requests to investigate Dylan’s kidnapping, including a petition to President López Obrador.

On the day of his kidnapping, Dylan was recorded on a security camera, alone — although his mother had sent him and his 5-year-old sister through the market to meet their grandmother at another stall — being accosted by two children, including a girl who appeared to be about 10 years old.

The camera footage showed the girl taking Dylan by the hand and leading him away from the market area to a woman, who then left the area with him.

Authorities found and interviewed the children in the video, who told them the woman had paid them 200 pesos to lure Dylan away from the market.

“Go get my son, who is in the market,” the woman allegedly told the children. “He’s very rebellious and he doesn’t want to leave with me.”

The search for Dylan set into motion an investigation that exposed a child-trafficking ring in San Cristóbal and led to the rescue of 23 children who had been kidnapped and forced to sell trinkets in the city, but it did not turn up Dylan. Instead, authorities said, a 23-year-old woman only identified as “Margarita N.” was detained in the case, which authorities say is unrelated.

According to the Chiapas officials the woman kidnapped Dylan because she could not have children and decided to use the child to convince her ex-husband to reunite with her. Her husband had previously left her over the issue.

She had been hanging around the market for two days before kidnapping the child, authorities said. After renting a room for one night in San Cristóbal, she then took the toddler to the small community of Las Palmas, two hours west of the city. Authorities found them both there 44 days later.

The woman faces up to 75 years in prison.

Dylan was checked by medical professionals after he was found and was determined to be healthy.

“The conditions in which he held him were humane,” said a state official. “She gave him food. She took care of him. There wasn’t any violence involved.”

Sources: El Universal (sp), Animal Político (sp)

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