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Authorities arrest Mexican national for allegedly kidnapping 4-year-old girl

November 27, 2009 |  4:49 pm

Federal authorities said today they have arrested a Mexican national who is accused of kidnapping a 4-year-old girl he had been paid to smuggle into the United States.

Emanuel De La Costa-Valdiva was arrested Thanksgiving Day after he took the girl into the U.S. and then refused to give her to her mother, according to agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Mother and child were reunited the same day, and the child was unhurt.

De La Costa, 32, has been charged with human trafficking, kidnapping and extortion and is currently at the Orange County Jail awaiting his initial appearance in court, according to a statement by ICE officials.

The mother, also a Mexican national, is expected to stay in the United States to serve as a witness for the prosecution.

ICE officials said the mother had made arrangements to enter the U.S. illegally and have her daughter, who is a U.S. citizen, smuggled in separately via another route.

When the mother went to retrieve her daughter, officials said De La Costa refused to return the child and demanded more money.

The mother contacted authorities who called in officials with the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force.

--Andrew Blankstein