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Eleventh child is seized in adoption probe

By Conall Ó Fátharta

Irish Examiner, Friday, January 27, 2012

An eleventh child has been seized in Mexico as part of an investigation into a child trafficking ring which sought to sell babies to 11 Irish couples.

The Jalisco state prosecutor said a four-month-old baby girl was taken from her mother’s home. It also said that federal prosecutors in Mexico are now examining whether or not to take over the investigation.

A total of 11 Irish couples were questioned in relation to the case. Authorities are currently searching for two lawyers who are believed to have been involved in handling the adoptions for the Irish couples.

The couples are all believed to have returned home to Ireland and have not been charged with any offence. Authorities in Mexico are still examining if the couples willingly took part in the scam or were duped.

Press agency AFP has reported that documents seized from the lawyers’ offices during the investigation showed children had been "legalised" by the alleged trafficking network in cases going back as far as 1990.

Carlos Lopez, one of the lawyers at the centre of the investigation, has denied any wrongdoing and said he has helped 60 Irish couples adopt legally from Mexico since 2004.

The Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) has declined to answer specific queries in relation to Carlos Lopez’s involvement in previous adoptions into Ireland, saying it will not comment on individual cases.

Geoffrey Shannon, chairman of the authority, said it was satisfied any adoptions registered here from Mexico were safe and secure.

"It is the strong view of the authority that there is no evidence that these registrations have been affected by recent developments in Mexico," he said.

The AAI has repeatedly warned prospective adoptive parents looking to adopt from Mexico "not to enter into private arrangements with private individuals or private agencies to adopt".

Private adoptions abroad were legal in Mexico up to last year, but tight restrictions were introduced on the practice in recent months. Couples must now go through the central authority in Mexico to legally adopt.

Prosecutors have arrested four Mexican women and two men in relation to the investigation.

Four of the 11 children rescued have allegedly shown signs of having been sexually abused.

Prosecutors believe 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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“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning . . . and the most disquieting loneliness." 

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