MEXICO CITY – Mexican federal agents have arrested a former manager of an orphanage on organized crime and child-trafficking charges, the Attorney General’s Office said.
The female suspect, who has not been identified, had been on the lam since 2009 after coming under suspicion as an “alleged child trafficker linked to the ‘Casitas del Sur’ case,” a reference to the Mexico City orphanage where 126 children were rescued following the disappearance of 14 other minors.
A 10-million-peso ($787,000) reward had been offered for information leading to the woman’s capture.
The detainee is suspected of involvement in the disappearance of a female minor from Casitas del Sur, the AG’s office said Thursday, noting that in her “role as caregiver she did not report when (the girl) was removed” from the facility.
The case of the missing children became public in January 2009, when the grandmother of a minor filed a complaint with authorities.
The woman was arrested at her sister’s home in the town of Atotonilco de Tula, in the central state of Hidalgo, the AG’s office said.
The orphanage, which was shuttered in 2009, was founded by the Iglesia Cristiana Restaurada (Restored Christian Church) in 2002 with the stated goal of caring for minors who had been victims of physical or sexual abuse or neglect.
The AG’s office has obtained several arrest warrants in the case and currently seven people are facing criminal charges for their alleged role in the disappearances.
One of them is Spaniard Antonio Domingo Paniagua Escandon, alias “El Kelu,” who was extradited from Spain to Mexico in 2011 on organized crime and child-trafficking charges.
Paniagua, who also holds Mexican citizenship, is accused in the disappearances of 14 boys and girls who had been in Casitas del Sur’s care.
Mexican officials say Paniagua is the founder of Iglesia Cristiana Restaurada, which has had several of its orphanages investigated in different Mexican states, and also was the president of Reintegracion Social, Casitas del Sur’s legal name.
Reintegracion Social also managed other homes for abused children in the Mexican states of Quintana Roo and Nuevo Leon. EFE