Father abducts daughter to Mexico after divorce request, Mariana Torres fights for Ana Lucía’s return to Australia

Mariana's fight for justice unfolds as she navigates international laws and family betrayal to bring abducted daughter Ana Lucía back to Australia.

Mariana Torres moved to Australia with her family for a better life. Still, for more than a year, she has been living a real hell, which was preceded by episodes of violence at the hands of her husband and the father of her daughter, for which she filed for divorce. However, Juan C planned to give her a fatal blow. Two days after the request, he said he would take the girl -Ana Lucía Ceballos Torres- to the zoo and never returned.

“He left with nothing, he was even in his pajamas,” said Mariana.

Something told her that things were not right. She went to the police, gave the passport number of her little girl – two and a half years old at the time – and returned home expecting them to return. Instead, she received a call from the officer who attended her moments earlier and told her he had bad news for her, and her daughter had boarded a plane abroad in her father’s company.

In desperation, she called her husband’s mother and told her that he had taken the girl, receiving a “what did you expect” response followed by threats, so she discovered that Juan’s plan was not his alone, as he had the help of his family. Thus she realized that she did not count on them and that they supported the man in his decision.

“I imagined that they traveled to Phoenix, since his sister lives there,” he told Heraldo Digital.

With Ana Lucia a week before she was abducted. Photo: Mariana Torres.
With Ana Lucia a week before she was abducted. Photo: Mariana Torres.

After the call to her mother-in-law, her husband sent her a message blaming her for “destroying the family” and told her that if she wanted her daughter, she had to go to Mexico to get her.

International abduction

After what happened, she went to the Mexican embassy in Australia to explain the situation. The diplomat told her that it was an international abduction and that the Hague Convention allowed them to act in these cases, and they began to put together the file to request the restitution. They checked her messages to make sure it was true that she had not given her authorization for the child to leave the country.

Juan took the child from Mexico to the United States intermittently for a month, so he had to wait to find out where she would settle before he could send the claim. Finally, the man moved with the child to Mexico, specifically Los Mochis, Sinaloa. The return application was sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs(SRE), which reviewed it and verified that it was an international abduction.

“It is important to mention that before we went to Australia, we lived in San Luis Potosi, my daughter never lived in Sinaloa”, informed Mariana.

Mariana could not leave Australia until the return order was ready. If she did so, it would be assumed that she agreed that her husband had taken her daughter.

She is asking for help to find her daughter. Photo: Mariana Torres.
She is asking for help to find her daughter. Photo: Mariana Torres.

The husband sued the girl’s mother.

While waiting for her request to be accepted and executed, her husband filed for divorce, stating that Mariana had abandoned her daughter, lied that she lived in Los Mochis, and did not take care of the little girl. It is worth mentioning that the notices never reached her. Her mother-in-law assured her that she had informed her about them, but she was unaware of the process that Juan C. had initiated.

As part of the restitution request, visits were made to the house where Ana Lucia lives, and psychological examinations of the father showed that he is a violent and manipulative man. The psychologist requested a psychiatric evaluation, but it was never carried out, even though Mariana insisted from Australia that it be done.

“We found out about the process he started from the social workers, since I couldn’t come to Mexico I followed it online,” said Mariana.

Meanwhile, Juan enrolled Ana Lucia in kindergarten to argue that he had a life made in Sinaloa to win full custody of the child, thinking that Mariana was not doing anything to get her back.

It is worth mentioning that mother and daughter never stopped being in contact, as she often made video calls. Still, the manipulation began, so these had to be done in a coexistence center with the supervision of a psychologist.

Their life was made in Australia. Photo: Mariana Torres.
Their life was made in Australia. Photo: Mariana Torres.

Restitution order

The child was ordered to be returned to Australia, but a Mexican judge denied the request, so they had to appeal the decision. Again it was ordered that the child returns with her mother to the country where the three of them lived. When the father was notified, he hid the little girl, took her out of kindergarten, and left his home and job.

Mariana immediately traveled to Los Mochis, went to the Attorney General’s Office (FGE) of Sinaloa, and requested the activation of the Amber Alert, which was activated after reviewing the case and the background of the minor’s father.

She has tried to appeal to her husband’s family to tell her where to find her daughter, but they have mistreated her, telling her that he abandoned the little girl and is a good father, so her desperation is great.

“I don’t want to take our daughter away from you.”

Mariana sent a message to her daughter’s father, in which she said that she does not want to take her away from him, she does not want him to stop being part of his life, she only wants the welfare of Ana Lucia and that the visits are resolved in the country where the three had a life made: Australia.

She also asked people who know where her husband and daughter are to please tell her she wants to see the little girl, hug her, and their lives are like before. She has no desire or intention to harm her husband or anyone. She is focused on recovering the girl because since March 15, 2022, her life changed, and despite her efforts, she has not recovered her beloved baby.