Father of 5-Year-Old Boy Found in Chains in Mexico Gets Congressman Issa's Help

antony castro
Five-year-old Antony Castro was rescued from his relatives' house in Mexico City, where authorities say he was held in chains. His father, who migrated to the U.S., is seeking reunification. Office of Mexico City's Attorney General

The State Department has been asked to get involved in the case of a 5-year-old boy abused by his relatives in Mexico after his father pleaded for a congressman’s help.

Mexican authorities were tipped about the child’s conditions and found him in chains, with tape around his mouth and signs of injuries all over his body, on June 27 in Mexico City. The child, later identified as U.S. citizen Antony Castro, was immediately admitted into hospital and diagnosed with child maltreatment syndrome, severe malnutrition and dehydration.

The attorney general’s office of Mexico City said that two adults in their 30s were arrested and face up to 60 years in prison for illegal deprivation of liberty in order to cause harm. The couple was identified as the boy’s paternal aunt and her husband.

The boy’s rescue after the three-month long ordeal was but a chapter in a complex story of immigration and family breakdowns. His father, Pascual Castro, has spoken to Mexican press to describe his version of the events.

After deciding to head to the U.S. for work, he left the child with his parents. Antony was then brought to live with his aunt and uncle in Mexico’s capital because he’d be attending a school where he would learn English, Castro told Mexican newspaper El Universal. He claimed he had no idea the child was being mistreated.

Antony’s mother, Dawn Sanderson, lost custody of the boy, then 11-month-old, when the couple separated. She’s now challenging Castro’s claim for custody. "I'm going to do what I have to do without stopping until the day I have him with me," she told NBC News.

Her great-grandmother Virginia Sanderson told The San Diego Union-Tribune his great-granddaughter is now able to take her of her son. “He’s a U.S. citizen,” Sanderson said. “He needs to be brought back here. He needs to be reunited with his mother. We’re doing all we can.”

The boy’s father, who says he cannot travel to Mexico as he’s in the process of regularizing his immigration status, has enlisted the help of U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa to reunite with his son as soon as possible.

A spokesman for the congressman confirmed Issa personally intervened to help Castro last week, calling senior U.S. officials to ensure the case would be prioritized and looked at with the attention it deserved.

“We will do everything in our power to get him out of this abusive situation and into a safe and stable environment where he can get the help he so desperately needs,” Issa said in a statement to Newsweek. “This is absolutely heartbreaking. We’re not going to let Antony down."

The boy is currently still in hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with pancreatitis last week, as reported in the Mexican press. It will be up to a Mexican family court to consider the best option for the boy’s future.