Mother, kidnapped children reunited

Associated Press

July 19, 2005

PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico
A teary-eyed mother reunited with her two previously missing children
said Tuesday she had been convinced she would never see them again.

Carrying a suitcase full of clothes, munchies and gifts for 18-month old
Bryan Cervantes and his 3-year-old sister, Jennifer, Oneida Isabel Acosta
laughed and cried as she rushed to hug and kiss the pair on a street
outside federal prosecutors office in the resort city of Puerto Vallarta.

Authorities say the children¹s father, Rodrigo Cervantes Zavala, is
suspected of killing Oneida Acosta’s parents and brother in Arizona,
before abducting the youngsters. He was captured Monday near a truck stop
in Puerto Vallarta.

I didn’t think I’d seen them again, but now they’re with me, Acosta said.
I am so proud of my country. What the authorities of the United States
couldn’t do, they succeeded in doing here. This is my Mexico!

The arrest near Puerto Vallarta comes eight days after an Amber Alert was
issued for Rodrigo Cervantes Zavala and his two children.

Cervantes, 34, now a Mexican jail on suspicion in the July 10 shooting
death of his chi’dren’s grandparents and uncle.

An intensive manhunt for the suspect ended deep in Mexico on Monday,
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced. Arpaio said sources led
Mexican authorities to the state of Jalisco, where Cervantes was found
Monday afternoon near Puerto Vallarta on the western coast some 900 miles
from the border.

The children were not with their father when Mexican law enforcement
descended on Cervantes. They were later located in a safe place nearby,
but Arpaio would not say where they were or who they were with.

Investigators told relatives in the state of Michoacan earlier in the
week that they were searching for Cervantes. It was not clear why
Cervantes was in Puerto Vallarta, and whether he had relatives there.

Arpaio would not release any additional details on how the arrest went
down.

Sheriff ¹s deputies interrupted the visitation of the slain grandparents
and uncle Monday evening at a Mesa funeral home to whisk mother Isabel
Acosta away so she could be in Puerto Vallarta by today to retrieve her
children.

Deputies told her that Mexican officials may not be able to hold
Cervantes if she did not go with them to his arraignment in Mexico this
morning.

But her brother said she is in the United State illegally and is afraid
she may not be able to come back to the country.

Several hundred friends and family members from Arizona and Mexico were
expected to bury Saul Lopez-Acosta, 63; Trinidad Castro Acosta, 51; and
Jesus Manuel-Acosta, 17, after a 9 a.m. funeral service today.

Arpaio said Cervantes may be extradited to face several charges in the
United States.

Cervantes was last seen with the children at 3 a.m. July 11 when he was
stopped by a Mexican customs agent while crossing the border.

The officer, who had no information about the kidnapping, stopped the car
because Cervantes seemed confused about the traffic lights.

Cervantes, who appeared drunk and shirtless, even asked the officer if he
was going to be handcuffed, said Mexican customs inspector Isai Moreno
Rivas.

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