updated 2/3/2006 10:50:06 AM ET 2006-02-03T15:50:06

The Mexican clinic where Coretta Scott King died has been closed, U.S. Embassy officials said Friday.

Mexican officials were not immediately available to explain why the Santa Monica Health Institute in the Mexican beach resort of Rosarito, 16 miles south of San Diego, was shut.

Judith Bryan, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, said the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana was helping patients find new facilities.

King last week traveled to the beachside clinic. She was seeking treatment for advanced stage ovarian cancer and a stroke she suffered several months ago.

The clinic specializes in alternative treatments for patients with incurable illnesses.

Dubious connection
Its founder and director, Kurt W. Donsbach, has a criminal past and a reputation for offering dubious treatments to desperately ill patients, according to court records and a watchdog group. But it was not clear whether Donsbach’s past had anything to do with the closing of the clinic.

However, the clinic doctors assigned to King’s case said she arrived in poor health and they could not even begin to treat her before she died early this week.

“She came here with half her body paralyzed,” Dr. Rafael Cedeno, the doctor who was overseeing her case, told reporters after King’s death. “She was in really bad condition.”

King’s death raised questions about the safety of alternative medical clinics across Mexico, many of which are not closely regulated.

In 1997, Donsbach was sentenced in federal court in San Diego to a year in prison for smuggling more than $250,000 worth of unapproved drugs into the United States from Mexico, according to court records. Donsbach was sentenced on three felony counts, including introducing unapproved drugs into interstate commerce, smuggling merchandise contrary to law and income tax evasion.

In 1988, the U.S. Postal Service ordered Donsbach and his nephew to stop claiming that a solution of hydrogen peroxide that they sell could prevent cancer and ease arthritis pain.

King’s children have said she died Monday at 11:25 p.m. EST, or 8:25 p.m. PST, while Lorena Blanco, a spokeswoman for the U.S. consulate in Tijuana, has said King died at 1 a.m. PST on Tuesday.

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