Child Trafficking Network Arrested in Costa Rica
At 6am this morning the Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ) broke up another human trafficking ring, which was dedicated exclusively to the trafficking of minors less than 1 year of age. A total of 14 arrests were made, including a female Family Judge who had been working in Liberia for 15 years on cases including adoption of minors. Her computer and documents were confiscated from the OIJ in Liberia to undergo investigation in San Jose.
The judge was said to be facilitating the sale of the minors who were obtained either illegally or purchased from poor and indigenous families who did not want the children for around $50 each, for a portion of the profits. They then sold the children for an estimated $10,000. The group would contact pregnant women in free clinics who could not afford the children and then have them put up for adoption.
The majority of the other arrests were made simultaneously through raids in the San Jose districts of Pavas, Escazu, Atenas, Hatillo, La California, Moravia and Curridabat and included a lawyer, two social workers and house wives among others. While the number of children that were sold by the group is unknown, police found nearly 4,000 photos of children. They believe that some of the children may have been sold internationally.
Just yesterday the daily newspaper Diario Extra reported on a 19-year-old indigenous Panamanian woman who is looking for her 2-year-old daughter who was sold by the woman’s ex-husband in Costa Rica two months ago.
A representative of the Panamanian Public Ministry said that this is the 5th case he has heard of in the past three months of children disappearing in the Chiriqui region, which borders with Costa Rica. The other cases were, however, resolved.
It is not clear how much the group was paying for the legal documents to put the children up for adoption, and it is assumed that some of the children were sold to other countries.