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Woman Convicted Of Child-Trafficking Charges In Fight Over 2-year-old

June 15, 1995

MATAMOROS, Mexico (AP) _ Paulyna Botello and Laura Lugo each insisted she was the mother of a 2-year-old boy.

It was a Solomon-like quandary that has left one woman convicted of taking the child, the biologial mother missing and many questions about what really happned.

``It’s a strange case,″ said Judge Marcelino Padron Benavides, who convicted Botello on child-trafficking charges Wednesday.

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

Botello, a Mexican citizen who has lived in Matamoros and Brownsville, raised the boy until a Texas judge granted custody to Lugo last year based on DNA tests showing that she was the biological mother.

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

While the judge said he was convinced the Botellos committed a crime, he also believed that Lugo initially may have participated in an under-the-table adoption.

The judge said that in December 1993 he referred evidence of Lugo’s possible complicity to prosecutors, but they’ve never charged her with any crime.

Rosa Botello is charged with the same child-trafficking offense as her sister.

Lugo, 28, has been missing since Dec. 21, only two months after she regained custody of the boy, whom she had renamed Jorge Daniel Alaniz after her maiden name.

Brownsville police are waiting on DNA tests to determine whether a set of female bones _ found June 4 in a wooded area of Brownsville _ are the remains of Lugo. The victim had six bullet wounds to the back of the skull.

The judge said Lugo’s disappearance in the United States had no bearing on the verdict in Paulyna Botello’s case.

Padron sentenced Botello, 34, to three years in prison, but he said she will be able to post bond and serve the equivalent of three years probation.

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