Mexico Police Uncover Smuggling Ring
Jan. 31, 2002
MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Federal police said Wednesday they had discovered a ring that was smuggling children from Central America to the United States, as authorities freed a dozen children and said many more may have been smuggled.
The Federal Preventative Police announced it had freed six Salvadoran infants from ``deplorable conditions'' at a house in Naucalpan, a suburb of Mexico City, and had arrested three people. Two other suspects were detained in Los Angeles, and authorities took six children found with them into protective custody there, Mexican authorities said.
Police said they uncovered the suspected smuggling ring when officers grew suspicious of two women accompanying six children, ages 9 to 11, at Tijuana International Airport near the U.S. border Monday.
The women turned the children over to a third person and immediately booked a flight to Mexico City, said Nicolas Suarez Valenzuela, coordinator of intelligence for the Federal Preventative Police.
Under questioning, Estela Barajas Gonzalez, 27, admitted that her husband acquired the children in Mexico City from a Guatemalan woman, and that they were sent with another person to Los Angeles, police said.
Barajas and her aunt, Virginia Barajas Perez, 43, were taken into police custody. Police then went to Barajas' home in Nacualpan, where they found the six infants. Her husband, Abel Bartolo Alanis, was arrested, Suarez said.
The infants found in Nacualpan were turned over to a child protection agency in Mexico City. Immigration officials in the United States located six other children in Los Angeles and took them into custody, Mexican police said.
Many more may already have been smuggled from Central America to the United States, police spokesman Valentin Perez said.
``We wouldn't rule out the possibility that there are many more cases,'' he said.