12-year search

LOS ANGELES – A US girl abducted by her mother 12 years ago has been reunited with her father after being found safe and well in Mexico following a joint US-Mexican rescue operation, investigators say.

Sabrina Allen went missing in 2002 at the age of four, and was rescued in the operation on Tuesday in the town of Estafeta Tlaxcala, about 140 kilometres east of Mexico City.

She is now 17 years old. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said her mother evaded arrest for so long by fleeing the country, moving frequently and constantly taking on new identities.

The mother, 44-year-old Dara Marie Llorens, also frequently changed the girl’s hair colour, according to media reports.

“I am overjoyed that Sabrina has been found alive and is safe,” said her father Greg Allen, who appeared at an emotional press conference in Austin, Texas.

“Our entire family would like to thank the investigators that made this happen,” he added in a statement released by private eye firm Klein Investigations and Consulting, who helped track down his daughter.

He had been given sole custody of his daughter when he divorced his wife in 2000. But she “knowingly abducted” the child during a weekend visit in April 2002, according to an affidavit.

One Mexican police officer was injured in Tuesday’s operation to rescue the girl, officials said, adding that both Allen and her mother were returned to the US overnight.

The father added: “Our prayers go out to the Mexican Federal Police officer who was injured. We also would like to thank the Mexican Government for their co-operation in this case.

“They never gave up,” he said, also thanking the FBI and US marshals who took part in the mission.

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