Ecuador Halts Adoptions After Police Crack Reputed Kids-For-Cash Cartel
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) _ The government on Friday began refusing to allow foreigners to adopt Ecuadorean children after police uncovered a ring that allegedly kidnapped babies and sold them overseas.
Deputy Secretary of Social Welfare Elsa Maria Castro said adoptions by foreign parents were being halted pending a review of Ecuadorean adoption practices.
The decision was announced after police this week arrested a Quito lawyer and four women in connection with irregularities surrounding the adoption of 30 Ecuadorean children since early 1988.
The children, who ranged in age from one month to three years, were adopted by parents in Great Britain and Norway, police said.
Police allege that a baby-trafficking ring would kidnap children in Quito’s bustling open-air markets and falsify identity papers certifying the children as orphans.
The children were then adopted by foreign parents via the Ministry of Social Welfare, which is in charge of Ecuadorean adoptions, they said.
The adoption process in Ecuador involves prospective parents retaining a lawyer to serve as an intermediary with the government.
Castro did not say when adoptions would be resumed.
Police identified the reputed ring leader of the baby ring as attorney Jorge Moncayo. The four women were not named.
Moncayo, in an interview published Friday in the Quito newspaper Hoy, denied any wrongdoing and was quoted as saying that he has been arranging legal adoptions for several years.
His lawyer, Jorge Andrade, charged that women who brought children to Moncayo had previously falsified their papers without Moncayo’s knowledge.