[JURIST] Lawyers for Guatemalan adoption agency Casa Quivira [agency website] have been charged with human trafficking [JURIST news archive] as a result of irregularities discovered in the agency's records, the defendants' lawyers said Monday. The investigation began in August, when government authorities raided the premises of Casa Quivira and removed 46 infants who were awaiting adoption by families in the United States. Prosecutors discovered that at least five of the children's mothers had provided false identities when offering their children for adoption, raising doubts as to whether the children may have been kidnapped. Reports by the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission [advocacy website] have said that child trafficking is on the rise [PDF text] in Guatemala and have urged the passage of laws regulating the adoption process.
The lawyers, whose trial officially began on Monday, claimed that they had no way of determining whether the identification provided by adoption mothers was authentic; they also accused prosecutors of improperly influencing the judge. Guatemala [JURIST news archive] is the second most popular destination after China for US families seeking to adopt children, and nearly 25,000 Guatemalan children have been sent to the United States since 1990. AP has more. Univision has additional coverage, in Spanish.