14 individuals were detained by police on March 4, then later released in Costa Rica on suspicions of participating in an illegal adoption scheme. The 14 individuals include a family court judge, a lawyer and two social workers employed at a clinic in San Jose. Also believed to have been detained are some of the would-be parents.
Police believe that the scheme targeted mothers who were in financial need. Costa Rican adoptive parents may have paid about $10,000 per baby. It is believed the scheme involves at least three babies who were purchased since June 2006, but police suspect there are more infants involved. Chief Prosecutor Francisco Dall'Anese indicated that some of the mothers suffered from drug addiction.
According to Jorge Rojas, chief of Judicial Investigation Police, “We have evidence of the sale of a child, who perhaps went to a family enthused to have a baby. But this trafficking is prohibited by law. Even thought it was a direct deal, in which the mother handed over the child, it was in exchange for money.”
Allegedly, the lawyer who was detained was the mastermind behind the scheme. The social workers may have referred the targeted mothers and the judge allegedly signed off on the adoption paperwork in exchange for a portion of the fee paid by the adopting parents.
Formal charges have not yet been filed. The judge and social workers have been suspended for six months pending the results of the prosecutor’s investigation. There is no evidence currently that any of the infants were adopted outside of Costa Rica but police are continuing to investigate.
Costa Rica Nabs 14 for ‘Selling Babies’, Associated Press, March 4, 2008
Costa Rican Police Arrest 14 in Baby Trafficking, Tico Times, March 5, 2008
Alleged Costa Rican Baby Traffickers Released, Tico Times, March 7, 2008