A San Marcos child taken by her father to Mexico in January in violation of a Caldwell County court order was reunited with her mother last week after Mexican courts ruled against him in a civil custody case.
Sarahi Sanchez Garcia, a three-year-old U.S. citizen, was reunited with her mother on Dec. 5 after nearly 11 months of effort to return the child to her custodial parent.
Armando Munoz Garcia, 46, fled with his daughter to Mexico on Jan. 15 in violation of a child custody order from Caldwell County prohibiting her removal from Texas.
“The San Marcos Police Department worked with multiple state, local, federal, and international agencies during the course of this investigation,” police Cmdr. Penny Dunn said.
“Every possible option and resource available was utilized in an effort to bring this to a safe and successful resolution. We are very happy to see Sarahi reunited with her mother and other family members in San Marcos, especially at this time of year. The criminal investigation will remain open until Armando Munoz Garcia is arrested and prosecuted.”
Munoz Garcia remains in Mexico and is wanted on a San Marcos arrest warrant for interference with child custody, a state jail felony that carries a possible sentence of up to two years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.
“Thank you very much for what everyone has done, especially the San Marcos Police Department, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the media for everything they have done for us,” Monica Sanchez Perez, Sarahi’s mother, said in a statement. “We appreciate everyone’s concern. God Bless.”
According to Sanchez Perez, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid was able to work through the courts in Mexico to have Sarahi returned. She re-entered the United States on Wednesday night.
Munoz Garcia picked up his daughter for visitation on Jan. 15 from Sanchez Perez, his ex-wife, in the parking lot of a church in San Marcos. Garcia called Sanchez Perez three days later, saying he was in Mexico and did not plan to return Sarahi, Dunn said.
Sanchez Perez pursued a custody case in Mexican civil courts. Mexican law enforcement authorities deferred any arrest of Garcia until the custody of the child was confirmed by civil courts in Mexico.
Armando Garcia remains a fugitive and faces arrest should he enter the United States or if he is captured by Mexican law enforcement authorities. No Mexican law enforcement authorities were present during the civil court proceedings, and Garcia’s current location remains unknown, Dunn said.
Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) is a non-profit organization that provides free legal services to low-income residents in 68 counties of Southwest Texas, and represents migrant and seasonal farm workers throughout the state of Texas and six southern states. People wishing to reach them may call 888-988-9996. For information on the organization, visit www.trla.org.