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Woman Accused of Snatching Baby From Mother’s Womb Is Convicted

June 14, 1995

MATAMOROS, Mexico (AP) _ A woman accused of stealing a baby from a mother’s womb and raising the boy as her own was convicted of child-trafficking Wednesday and could get the equivalent of three years’ probation.

Judge Marcelino Padron Benavides found 34-year-old Paulyna Botello guilty in the 1992 case.

Laura Lugo of Brownsville, Texas, had claimed that Ms. Botello and her sister Rosa lured her across the Mexican border to a clinic, drugged her, had a doctor perform a Caesarean section on her and made off with the infant.

Paulyna Botello had claimed to be the boy’s mother until DNA tests proved otherwise.

The Botellos say Ms. Lugo agreed to give her child up for adoption, then changed her mind and fabricated the baby-snatching story to win the boy back.

Rosa Botello, charged with the same offense as her sister, is awaiting a verdict.

The judge sentenced Paulyna Botello to three years in prison but held out the possibility of her release on bail under conditions similar to probation in the United States. She was not present when the judge announced his verdict.

In a Texas courtroom last year, Ms. Lugo won custody of the boy, now 2, based on DNA tests proving that she is the mother.

Ms. Lugo vanished Dec. 21, two months after she regained custody. Brownsville police are waiting on DNA tests to learn whether a skeleton found June 4 is hers. The victim had six bullet wounds to the back of the skull.

Since Ms. Lugo’s disappearance, the baby has been in the custody of her sister and her mother.

In 1993, Paulyna Botello was sentenced to three years in prison for child trafficking, but a higher court overturned the conviction.

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