‘Taken’ Update: Mother Reunited With Abducted Child

Monica Sanchez
Monica Sanchez Jen Reel
Monica Sanchez
Monica Sanchez Jen Reel

On December 5, nearly one year after she last saw her, Monica Sanchez was reunited with her 3-year-old daughter last week. The wait had been long and stressful – she hadn’t heard Sarahi’s voice or even seen a picture of her in 11 months – but she finally held her in her arms again.

In the August story Taken, I wrote about the struggles of two mothers whose children had been victims of international parental child abduction – a problem that plagues Texas more than almost any other state because of the border it shares with Mexico.

Sarahi’s father, Armando Muñoz Garcia, kidnapped his daughter in January and illegally took her to Mexico, where they lived in a small town in the state of Mexico. A family law judge ruled in May that Sarahi be returned to Texas for a custody hearing, but Garcia appealed the decision twice – first at the state, then at the federal level – before a federal judge reaffirmed the family law judge’s initial ruling.

A little more than a month later, a Texas RioGrande Legal Aid attorney, Mariano Nuñez, was able to pick Sarahi up in Mexico and bring her back to her mother in San Marcos. Sanchez says Sarahi is doing well and is happy to be home and to meet her new baby brother, but she will be going to therapy to deal with the trauma children face when they are abducted. Like many children who are abducted by a parent, Sarahi initially feared she’d be kidnapped again, this time by her mother, when she first saw her again.

Though Sanchez did not see her daughter for nearly a year, the case was resolved quickly compared to most international parental abduction cases, which can drag on for years. Rebecca Montalvo, who we also profiled in our August story, hasn’t seen the same success as Sanchez. A judge in Mexico recently denied her request to have her son returned to Texas, but she is appealing the decision.

Do you think free access to journalism like this is important? The Texas Observer is known for its fiercely independent, uncompromising work—which we are pleased to provide to the public at no charge in this space. That means we rely on the generosity of our readers who believe that this work is important. You can chip in for as little as 99 cents a month. If you believe in this mission, we need your help.

Priscila Mosqueda is a contributing writer at the Observer, where she previously interned. She grew up in San Antonio and graduated with a bachelor's in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin in 2012. Her work has appeared in InsideClimate News, The Center for Public Integrity, The Daily Beast, and various Central Texas outlets.

You May Also Like:

  • Follow the Money

    Over the span of four years, federal investigators estimated millions of dollars stolen from Mexican taxpayers passed through one South Texas bank. When they followed the trail, it led to real estate, cars, and airplanes. But in 2018, those investigations suddenly stopped.
  • Siguiendo La Ruta Del Dinero

    Durante cuatro años, los investigadores federales estimaron que millones de dólares robados a los contribuyentes mexicanos pasaron por un banco del sur de Texas. Cuando siguieron el rastro, condujeron a bienes raíces, automóviles y aviones. Pero en 2018, esas investigaciones se detuvieron repentinamente.
  • Texas Activists Took Their Fight Against a Natural Gas Project Abroad—And They’re Winning

    The Texas Railroad Commission’s about-face on natural gas flaring can be partially linked to pressure from European companies concerned about Texas’ dirty gas.