The family of Jakadrien Turner had been searching for her since she ran away in the fall of 2010 and are now demanding to know why immigration authorities deported the now-15-year-old teen, a U.S. citizen with no knowledge of Spanish.
“There’s no words,” her mother, Johnisa Turner, said of the ordeal. “It hasn’t been easy at all.”
The Colombian Institute for Family Welfare confirmed that Turner is in their custody, is pregnant, and entered the country as an adult. The institute said Colombian authorities learned about the case a month ago and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working on her return to the United States.
The U.S. State Department is also aware of the case, spokesman Ken Chavez said.
After Jakadrien went missing, the family tracked her to Houston, where she worked at a DJ club under a different name. They tried to get help from authorities there, to no avail.
Then the family learned that their teenage daughter was in Colombia, partying with men and smoking marijuana. A detective informed them that she was pregnant.
How Jakadrien got to Colombia is a mystery to the family. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency maintains she was arrested in Houston for theft and told them she was an adult from Colombia.
The agency says authorities believed her story because she maintained her false identity throughout the process. They handed her over to an immigration judge, who ordered her removed from the country.
“At no time during these criminal proceedings was her identity determined to be false,” the agency says.
The family’s attorney, Ray Jackson, says it doesn’t make sense.
“They dropped the ball,” he said.
He says the immigration agency took Jakadrien’s fingerprints but didn’t match them to the name she gave. The name matched a woman wanted by Interpol, Jackson says, so they “shipped her on through.”
The agency says it is taking the allegations very seriously and is “fully and immediately investigating the matter in order to expeditiously determine the facts of the case.”
Jakadrien had run away once before, two weeks earlier, her mother said, and Jakadrien told her the family didn’t give her enough freedom. Her good grades at school had dropped off, something Turner blamed on the normal problems of teenagers. Jakadrien’s grandfather, her mother’s father, had recently died.
Turner said she contacted Dallas police, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Dallas transportation authorities to no avail.
Grandmother Lorene Turner said she started following Jakadrien’s best friend on Facebook and eventually tracked her granddaughter to Houston, where she worked at a club under the name Tika Cortez. Johnisa Turner said she saw Jakadrien’s face on the marquee on her birthday.
“Oh my god,” the mother said when she saw it. “Is this really happening? Is that my child?”
A picture on Cortez’s Facebook page further confirmed for the family that the girl with the different name was their daughter. The picture had been taken of Jakadrien with her grandmother and although her grandmother had been cut out of the picture, her hair still showed on the edge.
Her mother said she told Dallas authorities what she had found.
Then, Jakadrien’s Facebook page suddenly said she was in Colombia. The family later learned she had been arrested in Houston for shoplifting.
Jakadrien later was taken to the U.S. consulate, and later moved to the government-run Colombian Institute for Family Welfare. The institute said it has custody of Jadadrien and that authorities are working on her return home.
The U.S. embassy provided the Colombian Foreign Ministry with documentation to confirm her citizenship and requested her return to the U.S., according to an official at the Foreign Ministry.
The family’s concerns grew when the detective told them that Jakadrien is pregnant, her mother said.
Johnisa Turner said she believes her daughter was coerced along the way, with someone promising her something that led her to maintain a fake story about who she is.
Jackson says he believes something more sinister is going on.
“There has to be something behind this 15-year-old girl ending up in Colombia, besides the fact that ICE dropped the ball,” he said. “Of all the nicknames … to pick one that’s of Latino descent, for that to be a name that sticks and gets you deported, that doesn’t make sense.”
Pictures of Jakadrien in Colombia showed her sitting on men’s laps smoking marijuana, her grandmother said. But Jakadrien, she said, seemed to be reaching out for help, listing on Facebook the names of everyone at parties perhaps so she could be traced.
Jackson says he doesn’t believe Jakadrien was trying to fake her way out of the country by using the false name throughout the process.
“I don’t buy that she had the wherewithal to be able to bamboozle the government,” Jackson says. “You know, kids are scared when they get around authorities. … To think that you could bamboozle them to create a new identity, it just doesn’t make sense.”