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baby selling


San Antonio Express-News

Author: JEROME P. CURRY; Express-News Staff Writer

baby selling
The Honduran government has withdrawn the credentials of an honorary Honduran consul in San Antonio following an investigation into the selling of babies here, the Express-News has learned.

That investigation involved babies being brought from the Central American country to San Antonio on tourist visas, then sold to families here for as much as $5,000, according to U.S. Immigration and Naturalization officials.

According to a federal memoranda, at least five cases were identified involving the "illegal adoptions of Honduran children by United States citizens."

The woman suspected of taking part in the baby sales will not be prosecuted because she has diplomatic immunity, in spite of the fact she's a naturalized U.S. citizen. Ray Dudley with the INS office in San Antonio would only confirm Thursday that the Honduran Embassy in Washington had withdrawn the accreditation of

Mrs. Rosargentina Pinel-Cordova

, a native Honduran who became an American citizen in 1955.

Honduran Ambassador Jorge Ramon Hernandez Alcerro rescinded the honorary status after being contacted by the U.S. State Department.

Pinel, said an unidentified woman who answered her telephone, was out of the country Thursday and unavailable for comment.

The INS investigation found that infants were being offered for sale in San Antonio for the past three years through an American missionary couple in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

The investigation was stymied, however, by a fire in Tegucigalpa that destroyed records believed to contain important information in the probe, according to the INS,

Those wanting to adopt, according to internal reports, paid for the babies in San Antonio. The infants were then flown out of Honduras to the United States with Honduran visas. The INS investigation led the State Department to ask the government of Honduras to lift the credentials of Pinel, federal officials said.

"The results of the investigation indicate that Rosargentine Pinel- Cordova, a United States citizen and honorary Honduran consul in San Antonio, has been engaged in visa fraud . . . Prosecution of Ms. Pinel was declined by the assistant United States Attorney in San Antonio," read a letter dated May 25, 1989, and mailed by INS Commissioner Alan C. Nelson to Joan M. Clark, the undersecretary for protocol with the State Department.

The reason federal officials decided not to prosecute Pinel, one federal investigator said, was because Pinel's status as an honorary consul precluded prosecution under the doctrine of diplomatic immunity, although she is a citizen of the United States.

According to the press statement released by Dudley, "Pinel has been a U.S. citizen since her naturalization in 1955, yet she re- entered the U.S. in 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987 and 1988" on Honduran passports with American visas. Honduran Ambassador Hernandez wrote to Richard Gookin, associate chief of protocol for the State Department, on Sept. 20, saying his government had decided to withdraw Pinel's credentials as an honorary consul of his country.

One of the cases investigated, according to Dudley, involved a San Antonio clergyman and his wife who obtained their infant daughter in 1987.

They fought a two-year battle to keep her after the INS declared the baby entered the United States with a fraudulent visa.

San Antonio lawyer Bob Shivers represented the couple.

"It is all over now," Shivers said. "The case is finished. The baby is an American citizen. She has a new name and loving parents."

1990 Nov 9