Mexican authorities are investigating eleven Irish couples caught up in an illegal adoption scandal after a suspected child adoption ring in Guadalajara was smashed by local police.
State prosecutors are now interviewing the Irish couples after four Mexican women were arrested and nine babies taken into care, seven of whom were already with Irish adoptive parents.
Local state attorney Tomas Coronado told newspapers that investigators will now interview the eleven Irish couples who may have been duped by the gang into believing that their activities were legal.
Officials at the Irish embassy are in touch with the couples who traveled to Mexico as a group.
Beara, West Cork - Ireland’s most beautiful landscape? - PHOTOS
A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said: “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.”
Earlier this month, the Adoption Authority of Ireland warned prospective parents going to Mexico not to enter into any private arrangements with agencies or individuals there.
The Irish authority is in talks with their Mexican counterparts to establish formal regulated adoption procedures between the two countries.
The Sunday Independent reports that Mexico is a signatory to the Hague Convention, which limits inter-country adoptions to countries that sign up.
The paper said that seven babies, said to be victims of the illegal adoption scheme, were taken away from the couples.
Police made their move after the arrest of three locals accused of buying them off their mothers and handing them over to childless foreigners.
Attorney Coronado added: “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.”
A 21-year-old woman has been arrested after a relative reported that she was "renting out" one of her children. The woman claimed that she had been paid to give the child to a group of three women who "needed baby pictures for legitimate advertising purposes."
Police ascertained that the other three women were taking the child and several others to a hotel where the Irish couples believed they were going to adopt them. The women were subsequently arrested on suspicion of belonging to a child-trafficking gang.
It is believed they bought babies off cash-strapped mums-to-be found through ads in local newspapers before handing them over to foreign couples who travelled to Mexico to adopt.
Seven of the Irish couples had already received their babies in Guadalajara and were sent to the nearby town of Ajijic with the children while the papers were processed.
Officials believe the Irish parents were duped into thinking they were taking part in a lawful adoption process.