An alleged baby-trafficking ring in Mexico, which sought to sell babies to 11 Irish couples, has been in operation for more than 20 years, authorities have claimed.
Blanca Barron, of Jalisco state attorney general’s office, told AFP that the operation may have been in existence for over two decades and sent children to Italy as well as Ireland.
She said that documents seized from a lawyer’s office during the investigation showed children had been “legalised” by the alleged trafficking network in cases going back as far as 1990.
Birth certificates, adoption papers and receipts sent to the babies’ natural mothers were also seized in the raid.
Ireland has adopted 61 children from Mexico between 1991 and 2008. The Adoption Authority has so far declined to give a figure for the numbers of Mexican children adopted into the country in the intervening period
Carlos Lopez, the lawyer at the centre of the investigation, has denied any wrongdoing and said he has helped around 60 Irish couples adopt legally from Mexico since 2004.
The Adoption Authority has also so far failed to respond to specific queries about Mr Lopez’s involvement in past adoptions to Ireland saying it was “inappropriate to comment on individual cases”.
Eleven Irish couples were questioned in Mexico in relation to the apparent child-selling racket. They are all believed to have returned home to Ireland at the weekend and have not been charged with any offence. It is still unclear if they willingly took part in the scam or were duped.
Authorities have arrested four Mexican women and two men, and seized 10 children between the ages of two months and two years old, in relation to the investigation. Four of the children have allegedly shown signs of having been sexually abused.
It is believed the couples were paying 1,200 pesos (€70) a week to the mothers since pregnancy and were paying for their medical care.
Prosecutors believe that the mothers, who were destitute and some of whom were illiterate, were duped into handing over their children for what they believed was an anti-abortion campaign advertised in the local press.
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