UPDATE: The four-year-old boy returned to Canada on August 12, 2017 and is now in the care of his father. No further details will be released.
The family is requesting privacy to ensure the well-being of the child. Media is asked to respect this request.
Previously released August 10, 2014:
Lethbridge Police, with assistance from the Belize National Police Department, have apprehended a 33-year-old woman who abducted her young son and has been on the run in Central America for the past three years.
On July 19, 2017 Lethbridge Police received information on the whereabouts of a 33-year-old Lethbridge woman and her son. Over the years police have tracked the woman and child to Mexico, Guatemala and various parts of Belize after her ex-husband reported she had fled the country with the couple’s then 11-month-old son and was not planning to return.
The mother and child have been the subjects of various Interpol Notices (international alerts shared between law enforcement agencies), the boy has been listed with numerous missing children organizations and an arrest warrant for parental abduction has been outstanding for the mother since early 2014.
Within hours of receiving the new information, Belize Police located the mother and child, now four, in the town of San Ignacio in the Cayo District. The pair were safely taken into police custody and transported to Belmopan, the Belize capital. The woman was ultimately jailed and fined for failing to produce valid immigration documents and the boy was placed in the care of Belize Human Services.
On August 9, 2017 the woman was deported to the U.S. where she was arrested upon landing in Houston, TX and then subsequently returned to Canada. She was taken into custody by LPS officers at the Calgary Airport.
The boy currently remains in the care of Belize Human Services and officials with Global Affairs Canada will accompany him back to Alberta in the very near future so he can be reunited with his father. At this time the exact date of his return is not known and arrangements are still being made.
“This has been an extremely lengthy and complex investigation but we are pleased to be one step closer to being able to return this young boy to his father and family in Canada who have been waiting more than three years to get him back,” said Sgt. Cam Van Roon, a member of the Criminal Investigation Section and the primary investigator.
“We greatly appreciate the assistance provided by the Belize National Police Department and all the other agencies who have been involved the past three years – the RCMP, Interpol, National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains, Department of Justice, the Missing Children Society of Canada, National Centre for Missing Children, Canadian Centre for Child Protection, Global Affairs Canada, multiple Canadian Consulates, Alberta Solicitor General’s Office and Canada Borders Services Agency.
The case began January 6, 2014 when police responded to a report of child abduction after the mother failed to drop the boy off for a court-ordered visit and sent a text message indicating they had left the country. On January 8, 2014 a court order granted the father sole interim custody and ordered the child’s immediate return. The order was sent to the woman via email as well as members of her immediate family who remained in touch with her. Police also made numerous attempts to contact her, urging her to return to Canada, but she did not respond. On February 5, 2014 she was charged with child abduction and a warrant was issued for her arrest.
Over the years she intentionally evaded police by constantly moving around Central America.
“One of the significant challenges of an international investigation is navigating foreign bureaucracy,” noted Van Roon. “The agencies we worked with were all very cooperative and helpful, but the laws, rules and regulations they are bound by sometimes differ from ours so there was a lot of red tape that caused delays and those delays often resulted in the accused being able to move before authorities were able to apprehend her.”
The 33-year-old woman is charged with child abduction. She appeared in court earlier today and was remanded in custody until her next court appearance Aug. 15.