Mexico pursues Douglas man accused of trafficking in kids

Date: 1999-10-08

The Arizona Daily Star
Author: Tim Steller

Mexican officials are pursuing the extradition of Mario Reyes Burgue�o, a Douglas lawyer who last week pleaded guilty to a U.S. charge of conspiring to traffic in children.

The extradition request stems from a Mexican investigation into Reyes and his associates in an adoption business.

After the Mexican investigation began last October, American authorities opened their own inquiry into Reyes and two New York state women.

The investigation led to the indictment and conviction of all three this year in New York.

Reyes faces a likely prison sentence of up to three years and five months when he is sentenced in New York Dec. 15.

As the American process unfolded, the Mexican Attorney General's Office obtained an arrest warrant for Reyes and decided to try to extradite the lawyer, said Ernesto Garcia Guerrero, the chief federal prosecutor in Sonora.

``He is a fugitive. We're hoping to put him in jail,'' Garcia said by phone from Hermosillo, the state capital.

If convicted of the Mexican charges he currently faces - trafficking in children and illegally holding a minor - Reyes could be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.

Federal police have also opened a second investigation into Reyes, Garcia said.

The first investigation looked at only one attempt to illegally bring a child into the United States.

The second case relates to about 15 other cross-border adoptions that may have been illegal.

Reyes, 42, has dual citizenship and earned his law degree in Mexico. He used to run a law office that abutted the Mexican immigration office in Agua Prieta, Sonora.

But he apparently hasn't ventured back across the international line from Douglas since the Mexican investigation came to light in October.

Mexican federal investigators have searched the office and seized the property.

American immigration agents arrested Reyes, Arlene Reingold and Arlene Lieberman in May.

They accused Lieberman and Reingold of steering potential adoptive parents to Reyes, who they said brought the women babies or young children for around $20,000 each.

The children were smuggled across the border without appropriate paperwork and turned over to the adoptive parents, Reyes told investigators.

No accusation has arisen that the co-conspirators kidnapped or stole children from Mexico.

Lieberman and Reingold pleaded guilty in July to the same conspiracy count that Reyes admitted to last week.


Pound Pup Legacy