Twenty-Three Children Have Been Rescued From Kidnappers After Being Found In A House In Chiapas, Mexico
The search for a two-year-old boy named Dylan Esaú Gómez Pérez, who went missing three weeks ago, has led to the rescue of 23 other abducted children. At the time of his kidnapping, Pérez had been with his mother in a market in Chiapas, Mexico. Surveillance video of the kidnapping showed Pérez being taken away from the market by a young girl. The video tipped off authorities to a broader scheme where children were being used to abduct other minors.
After Pérez’s disappearance, his mother and other family member began a desperate search to find him and bring him home.
Juana Pérez, the boy’s mother, traveled to Mexico City earlier this month as part of an effort to appeal to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to help find her son. Like her son, Juana speaks the Indigenous language Tzotzil. She works at the market where her son had been taken and sells produce there. Speaking with authorities investigating his case, she explained that it was customary for him to sometimes wander off to play. Kidnapping had previously never been an issue that she had heard of occurring at the market before.
In an interview with the National Palace in Mexico City, Juana said that her son was not amongst the children that had been found by authorities.
“None of the children (rescued) is my son,” Pérez said in an interview according to ABC11. “I haven’t heard anything about my son.” The outlet says Juana described her son as “a chubby, happy boy who market vendors nicknamed ‘Gordito’ and tearfully appealed for help in finding him.”
The search for Pérez continues but officials say that his kidnapping has led to the rescue of over twenty-three other abducted children.
In a statement issued by the Chiapas state prosecutors’ office, it was confirmed that the children were between the ages of 2 and 15 years old. They were found by officers in a home in the colonial city of San Cristobal de las Casas.
Three infants between three and 20 months old, were also found during the raid which took place on Monday. According to the prosecutors’ office, the children “were forced through physical and psychological violence to sell handicrafts in the center of the city.” The statement added that the abducted minors showed signs of “malnutrition and precarious conditions.”
“According to the children, many of them were forced to go out on the streets to sell things, and moreover they were forced to return with a certain minimum amount of money for the right to get food and a place to sleep at the house,” state prosecutor Jorge Llaven told ABC11.
Prosecutors say the children were forced to sleep on sheets of cardboard laid out on a cement floor.
Three women have been arrested in the case and will likely face human trafficking and forced labor charges. The rescued children have been handed over to child welfare authorities while the search for Dylan Esaú Gómez Pérez continues.