Shady Child Adoptions in Guatemala

From Prensa Latina, Sept 16, 2008

Guatemalan financial authorities detected several cases of money laundering related to irregular procedures for child adoption by US families, sources revealed on Tuesday in this capital.

The Special Verification Quartermaster Corps (IVE), in charge of investigating suspicious bank transactions, reported that at least $12 million were transferred to the county to pay lawyers and other people related to these procedures.

According to the report, there are around 85 money orders bought by around 50 US agencies, the transference services of which said, for example: "first payment for the child, second payment for the 7-year-old boy in process," and similar others. 

The amounts fluctuated between $20,000 and $30,000 and at least 40 Guatemalans were detected among the recipients, 20 of whom were notaries, the IVE said.

According to the local laws, money laundering is committed when sums of money are received as a result of an illegal or irregular action.

Up to late 2007, 4,000 Guatemalan minors were given up to adoption to foreign families, mostly from the United States, arousing criticism from national and international organizations.

Those organizations said many women ere convinced to sell their newborn babies to meet their needs, or babies were just robbed and their identities changed.

To stop this market, the government created the National Adoption Council, a single entity with legal power to authorize giving up a child for adoption.

The Council decided on September 9 to suspend international adoptions for an indefinite period, and give priority to applications by couples of Guatemalan origin that do not have to pay any money for the necessary procedures.


Money laundering

Given the great range in child prices adoption fees these days, is it any surprise some working within the adoption industry have taken to money laundering?

I can't help but think this gives new meaning to "blood money".

Money laundering?

But is it money laundering?

According to the report, there are around 85 money orders bought by around 50 US agencies, the transference services of which said, for example: "first payment for the child, second payment for the 7-year-old boy in process," and similar others. 

Definition of money laundering:

Money laundering is a process whereby the origin of funds generated by illegal means is concealed (drug trafficking, gun smuggling, corruption, etc.). The objective of the operation, which usually takes places in several stages, consists in making the capital and assets that are illegally gained seem as though they are derived from a legitimate source, and inserting them into economic circulation.

In these adoption cases, the money comes from adoptive parents, as a payment for 'adoption services'.

So, I would not define it as money laundering, but - as the payment for the services is rather too high for the real services delivered - it is rather TRADE IN CHILDREN.


Consider the sources

If you think about it, PAP's are not the only source of income for an agency.

Money laundering schemes often need a legitimate cover to keep them from obvious investigation.  What is more noble than saving orphaned/sickly children?  [Just think, these agencies don't even need an inventory of waiting children... they can just claim they provide certain services and pay as they greet their next investigation.] 

I found a great article that goes into more of the details that need to be ironed-out when considering money laundering:

classic money laundering--is to create a business to ostensibly earn that money. Any business that brings in a good deal of cash will do. You run the business as usual during the day. Then, after closing, you feed in your day's illicit receipts, pretending that they'd been received by the business. In due course the business pays its taxes and all the tax man can see is that you're running an unusually profitable business.

Now, the tax man may well take an interest in such a profitable business, so it's best if it'd be hard to prove that you couldn't be doing the business you're paying taxes on. A bar, for example, wouldn't be the best choice, because you wouldn't have ordered enough booze to pour all the drinks your books will say you've sold. Coin operated laundries and car washes are classics, because the only way to prove that you hadn't actually done all that business would be to have an undercover agent surveil your place for weeks, counting every coin inserted by every customer. (Although agents have been known to subpoena the water bill and try to make the case that way.)

Modern Money Laundering

The other thing sometimes called money laundering is when you have some big lump of cash that you'd rather not have people find out about. Sometimes it's an effort to keep the money from the tax man (literally the opposite of classic money laundering), other times the goal is to keep it from coming to the attention of someone else who might feel like they have some claim to the money--an ex-spouse, a creditor, the guy who owns the land where you found the bag of gold coins in the culvert.

In this kind of money laundering, the point is to make the money disappear. This is the sort of money laundering where you might make use of foreign banks, shell companies, and so on.

There are two parts to these strategies. First, you need to make the money disappear. Second, you need to make it reappear in some gradual fashion that doesn't bring it to the attention of whoever you're trying to hide it from.

Disappearing the money

The easiest way to disappear the money, especially if it's already cash (as opposed to, let's say, silver bullion or a winning lottery ticket) is to just stash it in a safety deposit box. You miss out on any investment income, but it's safe and you know where to find it.

If you really want to be able to invest the money, get it overseas. If it's an amount that you can just carry with you, buy a vacation package to the Cayman Islands or visit your family roots in Europe and take a little side trip to Switzerland or Austria or Liechtenstein.

There are plenty of fancy, complex ways to get the money overseas, that mostly require an accomplice. The most basic is an invoice scam. Establish a business that imports or exports something. Meet with your customer or supplier and arrange with him to either over-pay or under-bill, and then to have your counterpart deposit (most of) the excess into your foreign bank account. An ongoing scheme is good, because the guy knows that the lucrative cash flow will stop if you find out the money isn't getting deposited as it should, but you can also work this as a one-shot deal if your counterpart can be trusted.

Banks used to help their good customers get money discretely overseas, but nowadays there are a bunch of laws against such things, and bankers are particularly averse to going to jail for their customers. Expect them to refused to get involved and to rat you out.

Reappearing the money

Now we're basically back into classic money laundering territory.

If you stashed a duffel bag full of cash it in a safety deposit box (or under your bed), all you need to do is pull out a few bills now and then when you're heading out for a night on the town. You can raise your standard of living modestly. Alternatively, you could increase the amount that's going into your 401(k) and then use the cash to keep your standard of living about the same--gradually turning the hidden money into above-board money.

If you've got the money overseas somewhere, bring it back in some way that makes it legit. The easiest would be to create an overseas company that then hires you to do something. You do whatever it is and send an invoice whenever you want some cash. You can also reverse the invoice scam that let you get the money overseas in the first place--now you under-pay (or over-bill), while making up the difference out of your foreign bank account. A third option is a fake loan where you "borrow" the money and then simply fail to pay the money back. 

 [From "How to launder money", Sept 1, 2007, WiseBread]

The rest of that article goes into the laws involved in these schemes.  I bet many can see how lucrative baby-selling can be, especially if a person is willing to dip a few toes into a little laundering pool.

Laundering example:

Facing the Reality of Child Trafficking and Adoption


by Joanne Thalken

On November 19, 2004, Lauryn Galindo, a Seattle intercountry adoption facilitator, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the child trafficking of  hundreds of Cambodian children.

Galindo denied child trafficking charges but pled guilty to money laundering and visa fraud. She admits to falsifying children’s names, dates of birth, places of birth and family history. She facilitated over 800 adoptions, taking $9.2 million dollars in fees. A portion of these fees was meant to go to the orphanages in Cambodia, but it seems very little of the money reached them. Much of the money went towards Galindo’s multimillion-dollar house in Hawaii and expensive cars.

Excerpts from court documents describe one child being taken from her village at the age of nine, to be placed with a family in the United States who was told she had spent four years in an orphanage. The child, understandably, was completely devastated, angry, hurt and confused.  Her parents had no idea why. Once she learned to speak English, she did manage to explain to her parents what had happened.

Families also received children from biological parents they were told were the nannies. Birth parents were given money and told that they would be able to join their children in the United States later.

Court documents state that Galindo, “prepared, or caused adoptive parents to prepare, visa paperwork that falsely represented either (1) that the adopted child’s family history was unknown or (2) the names, date of birth, place of birth, current residence, relatives, and or physical characteristics of the adopted children. It is important to note that it was not only the names and dates of birth of the adopted children that were falsified, but also their family history, place of birth, current residence, and other factors that made it impossible for them ever to locate their Cambodian family members.”

Though Galindo constructed a complex web of bribery and corruption which involved government officials and offshore bank accounts, Galindo and her lawyers try to portray her as a simple person whose one aim was to “help children.”


A video was posted featuring this story.  You can find it here: "Cambodia Adoption Scandal",

The very disturbing thought is how many are there within the adoption industry... and how many have NOT been caught?

Blood money...

There is at least one example where  blood was shed

And I'm sure that there are many "birth" parents who have died grieving their lost children through adoption/child traficking.

Where to begin????

Wow... that was one horrific article.  It actually reminded me of a back-alley abortion, only much MUCH worse.

There is so much to say in regards to that piece, but one thing that really stuck out like a cancerous tumor is this subtle connection made about supply, demand, and how easy it is to fall into the wrong hands when a child's life is placed in the care of a self-serving stranger.

Sandra Soria, executive director of Peru's nonprofit Institute for Infancy and the Family, said it is impossible to know how many children are sold each year, not only for adoption but also for forced labor and the sex trade.  [From:  "Teen's murder casts light on baby trafficking in Peru", March 13, 2006,]

Where is the morality in adoption if people are willing to break laws and stop at nothing -- (some will even kill a young pregnant woman) -- all for a baby?

Supply and demand

I looked for some more infomation about this case and found a recent article in Spanish:

Supposedly the only ones accused in this murder are the ones responsible for the actual deed, but the demand side of this operation seems to have run scott free.

Supply and demand translated

Since not everyone can read Spanish here is the article above translated...

Reaffirm accusation and asked for 35 years responsible for murder of Claudina Herrera

The Eighth Higher Criminal Prosecution of Lima today ratified the indictment for the crimes of abduction and murder, and requested the maximum sentence of 35 years imprisonment for those responsible for the death of the couple Claudina Herrera, who killed in October 2005 to remove The baby who was brewing.

The main accused is Isabel Palacios, the woman who was passing by the baby's mother Claudina.

It is also processed social assistance, Sofia Parravicini, who took Palacios and the baby to the hospital of the Solidarity Surquillo to find an alleged delivery of emergency.

Also, Diana Rivas, accused of being the obstetrician who, through a cesarean clandestine, extracted the baby of the deceased couple, as well as the taxi driver Miguel Montoya.

In addition, he requested that the defendants pay in solidarity 120 thousand suns of civil reparation for the bereaved families of Claudina Herrera and his minor daughter, Fabiana Antonella.

The hearing, which was in charge of the Second Criminal Division for Offenders in Jail, was held in the courtroom of the Lurigancho prison.

Kinda brings a new meaning

Kinda brings a new meaning to "You can have my baby over my dead body"

Perhaps it won't be long till C.A.S/CPS/DCF will integrate this process into their repertoire of child abduction methods...

For these agencies more babies means more money ...... I am glad at least somewhere some people know this is wrong..

Blood Money

They already have and now that the new updated version of the Adoption Incentive Bonus program passed the house this morning it will only get worse. The money they were getting for these children has just been doubled.


Pound Pup Legacy