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Article

1 Jul 2022

Author:
The Washington Post,
Author:
El País

Mexico: Former official who led search for the disappeared is found guilty of sharing confidential genetic information with the biotech company ADN México; incl. company comments

Wikimedia Commons

"Ex-leader of Mexico’s search for disappeared convicted in DNA scandal", 07 July 2022

...A former official who led Mexico’s search for the disappeared has been found guilty of sharing confidential genetic information from thousands of recovered human remains with a private company.

Roberto Cabrera was sentenced late Thursday to three years in prison after a judge said he had helped a firm that “merchandised the suffering of families” searching for their loved ones...

...Cabrera...became the public face of the government’s effort to find and identify the missing...

Karla Quintana, a Harvard-educated human-rights lawyer, succeeded him in that role in 2019. She filed a criminal complaint after learning that Cabrera had turned over genetic material from at least 45,000 people to the biotech company ADN México.

...The firm had already acquired DNA from missing person cases in several states, via contracts with local authorities and tests sought by individual family members.

...[O]fficials discovered that ADN had outlined a potential $3.5 million contract with him in which the company would compare relatives’ DNA to the genetic material in a government database...The company had already started contacting families of the missing, offering to perform the service free, prosecutors said. The contract was never signed...

ADN spokeswoman Katya Mardueño said the company never profited from the genetic material it received. She said Cabrera asked the firm to see if it could create a massive database and match the DNA of unidentified bodies and families of the disappeared. The company told him the services would cost around $3.5 million, she said, but they never reached a deal.

She said the genetic material the company received did not have names attached. “We just did matches and gave information to the authorities,” she said...