More Rings Uncovered By INS Investigators
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Immigration officials investigating a baby smuggling ring that brought Mexican infants into the country for adoption have uncovered other rings, an agency official said Monday.
″I think we’ve exposed a part of one, but they may have been the conduit for another number of rings. I would expect some additional indictments,″ said Cliff Rogers, deputy district director of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. ″It’s a time-consuming investigation and it’s still going full-strength.″
The additional ring was discovered after two women were arrested in September and charged with conspiracy to smuggle the infants, Rogers said.
Rogers said authorities were considering a plea bargain in the case against Juanita Vargas-Ruiz, 52, and her daughter, Melinda Leyva-Vargas, 28. He said the women may have had dealing with other rings.
William Bissell, an Arkansas man charged with forging birth certificates and other adoption documents, has pleaded guilty, Rogers said. Bissell also was known as Jose Eschevarria.
″Some of our other principals are in Mexico,″ Rogers said. ″If somebody would like to invite them to dinner over here, we would gladly show up and arrest them.″
A government appeal for adoptive parents to come forward provided some leads, and no children whose adoptions technically are illegal have been taken from their adoptive parents.
Originally, officials said the ring may have been responsible for smuggling and selling as many as 200 Mexican babies in the last two years. Rogers said that figure may be high.
″We have confirmed, that is talked to the parents or seen the babies on 12 cases,″ Rogers said. He said those involved were in four states: Oregon, California, Washington and Illinois.