Calgary

Lethbridge mom accused of abducting son 3 years ago arrested in Belize

A 33-year-old woman wanted for the past three years by police in Lethbridge, Alta., for abducting her son and leaving the country has been arrested in Belize.

Boy, now 4, to be reunited with father as mother deported to face charges in Canada

A 33-year-old woman wanted for the past three years by police in Lethbridge, Alta., for abducting her son and leaving the country has been arrested in Belize.

The mother is now in Lethbridge while her son is being looked after by the Belize Human Services department.

Global Affairs Canada is making arrangements to accompany him back to Alberta to be reunited with his father.

The four-year-old boy is in good health and has family in Canada who will be pleased to see him again, said Sgt. Cam Van Roon, the primary officer on the case with the Lethbridge Police Service.

"The tough side of it, of course, is it is going to be quite taxing on this little fellow to come back after having been gone for three and a half years," he said.

The mother is facing an abduction charge and it's up to the courts to decide if she gets visitation rights with the child, he said.

"There is no one who is really winning in this situation," said Roon. "It's a very tough situation as this child has to re-integrate into Lethbridge, getting to know his father again. And frankly, [she] was a good mother to [the boy] so he's also going through the emotions of not being around his mom a whole lot, which of course will be difficult for him."

The parents cannot be named as the court has imposed a publication ban on any information that would identify the child.

Mother left Canada with baby

An arrest warrant was issued in 2014 after the mother left the country with her then 11-month-old son. 

She had failed to drop off her son for a court-ordered visit with his father and texted to explain she had left the country with the child and wouldn't be returning.

Lethbridge police often found themselves one step behind the mother, who evaded police by constantly moving around Central America, said Roon.

"There were many times where we felt like we were just missing her, for sure," said Roon.

"All the agencies we worked with were extremely co-operative and helpful. However, at times, navigating foreign bureaucracy was a significant challenge to the investigation. And, of course, with differences in laws, rules, regulations and even law enforcement priorities, there were delays, which at times resulted in the accused being able to move from one place to another."

Police received new information on July 19 indicating the woman and her son were in Belize.

Officers in the town of San Ignacio arrested her for failing to produce valid immigration documents and deported her to the United States on Wednesday.

The woman was taken into custody when she landed in Houston. She was returned to Calgary, where Lethbridge police arrested her.

She is scheduled to appear in court on Aug.15.