Brazilian couple facing kidnapping charges in Texas case
HOUSTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors have charged a Brazilian couple with helping their daughter in the kidnapping of their grandson, who was taken to the South American country in 2013 in the midst of his parents’ divorce in Texas.
Carlos and Jemima Guimaraes were arrested Wednesday in Miami after arriving on a flight from Brazil.
The couple, along with their daughter, Marcelle Guimaraes, has been charged by federal authorities in Houston with international parental kidnapping and conspiracy.
Authorities said Marcelle Guimaraes has not been apprehended and the boy, Nico, now 8 years old, has not been returned to the U.S.
Prosecutors allege that Marcelle Guimaraes took her son to Brazil under the false claim of attending a family wedding and that she never planned to return to the U.S. with the child.
At the time of the alleged kidnapping, a state district court in Houston had granted joint custody of the boy to Guimaraes and her now ex-husband, Christopher Brann, a Houston doctor, as they were getting divorced. A Texas judge in 2015 ordered that the boy’s primary residence be in Harris County, where Houston is located.
In a criminal complaint, authorities allege Carlos and Jemima Guimaraes helped their daughter conceal her plans to keep the boy in Brazil by misleading Brann about her plans and by helping enroll the boy in a school in Brazil run by Jemima Guimaraes ahead of his arrival in the country.
“I am very sorry it has come to this. All I ever wanted - and all I still want - is for my son Nico to have equal access to both his loving parents,” Brann said in a statement. “If Nico is immediately returned to Houston, I am prepared to ask the U.S. Attorney’s Office to be lenient in how it handles Carlos and Jemima’s cases.”
During their initial court appearance Wednesday in Miami, Carlos and Jemima Guimaraes were ordered held without bond until a detention hearing on Monday.
Court records didn’t list an attorney for the couple. Carlos Guimaraes is president of ED&F Man Brasil, a commodities trading firm.
Brann’s attorneys said they are appealing a ruling in 2015 by a Brazilian judge that denied the boy’s return to the U.S. under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, an international treaty for governmental cooperation on such cases.
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter at www.twitter.com/juanlozano70