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Name: In re A.M.
Case #: D064420
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 03/10/2014

The juvenile court properly took emergency jurisdiction over Mexican minors after their mother was caught trying to smuggle heroin into the U.S. with the minors. Mother was arrested as she attempted to smuggle three pounds of heroin into the United States from Mexico. She had two young minors with her in the car when she was arrested, having brought them along in hopes of avoiding suspicion. Mother lived in both Tijuana and in San Diego. The minors lived in Tijuana,as did their father, who had participated in the heroin smuggling operation. Mother and father had a shared custody agreement, and exchanged the children each week. The Department filed a section 300, subdivision (b) petition. At the detention hearing, the court assumed emergency jurisdiction under the UCCJEA because the children’s home state is Mexico. The children were detained with an aunt in San Diego. The juvenile court sustained the petition, finding that it had emergency jurisdiction because if it did not, the minors were at risk if they were returned to father in Mexico. On appeal, mother contended that the court erred by exercising jurisdiction without contacting a court in Mexico to determine whether Mexico wished to assert jurisdiction. The appellate court rejected the argument and affirmed. The court properly assumed jurisdiction because the parents’ attempt to use their children in a scheme to smuggle heroin presented a substantial risk of danger to the children. However, the juvenile court erred when it failed to contact and provide notice to a court in Mexico to determine whether it wished to assert jurisdiction. The appellate court remanded the case for the limited purpose of contacting and providing notice to Mexico. If a Mexican court does not take action after contact and notice, the jurisdictional and dispositional orders remain in effect.