German man and Peruvian wife charged with trafficking babies to Europe

Date: 2006-02-18

Associated Press Archive
Author: RICK VECCHIO; Associated Press Writer
Dateline: LIMA, Peru
A German man and his Peruvian wife have been charged with trafficking Peruvian babies to adoptive parents in Europe through an Internet site, police said Friday.

Investigators believe the couple obtained the babies from poor women who were willing to give up their children for money.

Arndt Hubert Kupper, 36, and Eva Noruzka la Torre, 22, were arrested Wednesday. They allegedly offered to sell the infants for $16,870 each.

A lead investigator in the case told The Associated Press that police have evidence indicating that at least 10 babies were sold. One Peruvian child was recovered in Ecuador.

The arrests capped a seven-month investigation that began when a German woman was stopped at Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport as she tried to board a KLM flight to Germany with a 15-day-old girl, police said.

Airport employees became suspicious when they saw the dark-skinned baby crying, refusing to take a bottle from the fair-skinned woman.

The woman slipped away from authorities but was later detained in Ecuador, where she remains under arrest for baby trafficking, Lt. Anibal Torres said. Police were still trying to track down the real mother in Peru.

Kupper and la Torre offered adoptions in German, English and Spanish on a Web site called "Adoption Shilfe Peru," which has been in operation since December 2004, authorities said.

Police said they recently obtained a court order to access the couple's Peruvian banking records to see how many deposits they may have received from Europeans seeking children.

"I calculate that he (Kupper) took several, more than 10 babies," Torres said.

He said Kupper has multiple convictions in Germany for swindle and is wanted in several Latin American countries, including Panama and Argentina, to answer fraud allegations.

Police said Kupper's brother-in-law, Weninger la Torre, 27, bribed a municipal civil registry official in the jungle city of Pucallpa to fake the birth certificate showing the German woman was the baby's birth mother. Police were still searching for the brother-in-law.

Torres said Kupper acknowledged under questioning that he swindled would-be adoptive parents out of down payments for adoptions, but that he denied being involved in a wider baby trafficking ring.

His wife says she and her husband are innocent of any wrongdoing, police said.

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