Girl missing for 3 yrs reunited with family

Published: February 16, 2006 | 3545th good news item since 2003

A Texas teenager missing for three years has been reunited with her family after Mexican authorities found her living on the streets of Tijuana.

Chelsea Castorena was 15 when she was thought to have run away from her Austin home in February 2003. Investigators later learned that she had been lured across the border into Mexico, FBI spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said.

Acting on anonymous tips from Texas, the FBI’s San Diego office contacted Mexican police and immigration officers, who found Castorena, now 18. They took her to the border, where her family was waiting, Caldwell said.

Castorena was found about 2 p.m. Tuesday in the Zona Norte section of Tijuana, in a part of town where prostitution is regularly practiced in local bars and hotels.

Tijuana police said they had been notified earlier that day by U.S. authorities of the girl’s general whereabouts. Ten police officers were involved in the search, said Guillermo González Smith, chief liaison officer with the city’s police agency.

“She was in the street, dressed normally,” González said. “It appears she was living in a hotel.”

González said Castorena was a little frightened at first.

“Fortunately, we were able to get her calmed down and to let her know this would be the best option for her, and to accompany us,” he said. “There wasn’t a need to handcuff her.”

González said he wasn’t sure how long the girl had been in Tijuana, but that she had apparently come to the region voluntarily with friends from Texas several years ago and decided to stay.

“Without the assistance of these Mexican law enforcement agencies, it is very likely that Castorena would still be missing,” Caldwell said.

The investigation into Castorena’s disappearance is continuing, the FBI spokeswoman said.

Published in Kids & Teens, Reunited
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