Missing 10-year-old Mission Viejo boy found safe in Mexico

Orange County Sheriff's Department investigators made contact Thursday with a 10-year-old missing Mission Viejo boy and his father, accused of taking the child to Mexico in violation of a court order, but while they do not know exactly where the pair is they believe the boy is safe.

Jaime Zepeda, 33, picked up his son Jaime Huerta about 1 p.m. Wednesday from Linda Vista Elementary School at 25222 Pericia Drive in Mission Viejo and was supposed to drop the boy off at his mother's home at 7 p.m. but never showed, Lt. Wayne Rehnelt of the Orange County Sheriff's Department said.

Zepeda was allowed to pick up his son Jaime Huerta from school, but was required to drop him off at his mother's home, Orange County sheriff's Lt. Lane Lagaret said.

The parents are not living together, and Lagaret did not know their marital status.

Zepeda, a Mexican citizen, is believed to have family and ties to Mexico, Lagaret said.

``This morning we were able to contact the father on his cell phone and had a conversation with him and then asked to speak to the son to see if he's OK,'' Lagaret said. ``He's doing fine, according to Jaime (Huerta).''

The sheriff's investigators ``asked if he's ready to come home and he said that, no, he's fine with his father right now,'' Lagaret said.

Investigators believe they're in Mexico, but don't know where specifically, Lagaret said.

Jaime's mother was ``upset when I spoke to her on the phone,'' Lagaret said.

``We've exhausted all of our leads and taken this investigation as far as we can now,'' Lagaret said.

Investigators will turn over their evidence to the Orange County District Attorney's Office, which can file charges that would lead to an arrest warrant, Lagaret said.

That would allow authorities to detain Zepeda at the border if he returned to the U.S., and it would help local authorities seek his detention in Mexico in order to get the boy back home, Lagaret said.