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Friday 29 August 2014

Irish couples to be quizzed over illegal adoptions

Four Mexican women arrested as part of probe

Gerard Couzens

Published 15/01/2012 | 05:00

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Adoption: Suspects and one of the babies in Guadaljara

ELEVEN Irish couples are said to have been caught up in an investigation into illegal child adoptions in Mexico.

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The Irish couples were reportedly due to be interviewed by state prosecutors over the weekend as police investigated a suspected child adoption ring in Guadalajara.

Four Mexican women have been arrested and nine babies taken into state care.

A state attorney, Tomas Coronado, told local newspapers yesterday that investigators wanted to interview 11 Irish couples.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said last night that the Irish Embassy in Mexico had been in touch with the group of Irish parents and was seeking more information.

"Our Embassy in Mexico is aware of the reports and is in contact with a representative from the group and with a lawyer representing the group.

"The Embassy has requested details surrounding the circumstances of this case from the Mexican authorities," said a spokesperson.

The Adoption Authority of Ireland recommended this month that parents hoping to adopt from Mexico should not enter into any private arrangements with agencies or individuals there. The authority has been working with Mexico to establish formal regulated adoption procedures between both countries.

Mexico is a signatory to the Hague Convention, which limits inter-country adoptions to countries that sign up.

Reports in Mexico said seven babies who were said to be victims of an illegal adoption scheme were taken away from the couples after the arrest of three locals accused of buying them off their mothers and handing them over to childless foreigners.

State attorney, Tomas Coronado, said: "There'll be a full investigation into this matter and we will prosecute whoever's committed these illegal acts. We have identified 11 Irish couples and are about to take statements from them.

"Some of them had the babies we've rescued with them, because they were told that living with them was part of the process they needed to go through for adoption."

"We've rescued nine babies in total, boys and girls. Two were removed from one of the women we arrested and another seven from the custody of foreign couples. They're now in state care. One is two; the rest are between two and eight months."

The state prosecutor's office said a 21-year-old woman was arrested after a relative reported that she was "renting out" one of her children. The woman said she had been paid to give the child to a group of three women who needed baby pictures for legitimate advertising purposes.

Investigators found the other three women were taking the child and several others to a hotel where Irish couples believed they were going to adopt them. The Mexican women, all aged in their early 30s, were subsequently arrested on suspicion of belonging to a child-trafficking gang.

They are also suspected of buying babies off cash-strapped mums-to-be found through ads in local newspapers. They would then hand them over to couples who travelled to Mexico to adopt.

The Irish couples were reportedly given the babies at a hotel in Guadalajara and sent to the nearby town of Ajijic, a popular retirement destination for Canadian and American expats, to spend a fortnight with them while the papers were processed.

Officials have not ruled out further arrests.

No formal accusations have been laid against the Irish couples caught up in the scam.

Investigators say they want to determine if they were duped into thinking they were taking part in a lawful adoption process.

Sunday Independent

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