herald

Thursday 21 September 2017

Children in trafficking probe had been abused

FOUR of the 10 children seized in Mexico during a child-trafficking investigation involving Irish couples were sexually abused, an official has claimed.

A Mexican official said that the children had been examined by doctors who determined that some of them had been victims of abuse.

"There are four children who show signs of having been abused (sexually), perhaps not in a violent way but there are signs (of abuse)," Jalisco state attorney general Tomas Coronado said.

At least 11 Irish couples are being quizzed by police, but none of these are suspected of abusing any children.



care

The mothers of the 10 children were given 1,200 pesos (€70) a week since their pregnancy and foreign couples also paid for their medical care.

Another sum of money was supposed to be exchanged once the children had been born and were adopted by the Irish couples, Mr Coronado said.

"The great majority of the people from Ireland who have given their testimony have said they thought it was part of the adoption protocol in the state to be paying and that obviously means (someone was making) a profit throughout the adoption process," he said.

Investigators are trying to verify if Irish couples knew that they were involved in an illegal child adoption scam or if they were tricked. The Irish embassy in Mexico confirmed that it was providing consular advice.

Lawyers who processed the adoptions are thought to have advertised in a local newspaper for expectant mothers looking to give up their children.

Police have not questioned the lawyers so far and while they have not been identified, it is understood that the owners of Lopez y Lopez Asociados are connected to the case.

Yesterday, police raided a two-storey home in Guadalajara that is thought to have belonged to the two lawyers involved in the controversy.

The alleged child trafficking ring was exposed last week when a woman contacted the authorities claiming her sister-in-law was trying to sell one of her children. The 21-year-old, who was accused of child trafficking, led investigators to three other women, all in their early 30s.

Nine children -- the 21-year- old's two children and seven children who were with Irish couples -- were seized.

Another three women were detained this week. They had been hired as nannies to look after children in the process of being adopted, according to prosecutors. They were taking care of a baby boy, who was also seized by police.

The 10 children are all understood to be aged between two months and two years of age. A taxi driver was also detained as a result of the probe.

A group was taking children to a hotel in Guadalajara where they met Irish couples, according to prosecutors. The couples then took the children to the nearby resort of Ajijic, where they remained until the alleged adoption was completed.

hnews@herald.ie

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