Authorities have charged Peru’s former national police director and his girlfriend with organizing a baby trafficking network, revealing the government’s apparent inability to tackle this crime.
On November 7, authorities in Peru arrested 14 people for taking part in a child trafficking network in the city of Arequipa, in the southern part of the country, El Comercio reported.
The group included the former director of Peru’s national police, Raúl Becerra, and his partner, Cinthia Carolina Tell, a businesswoman who is accused of leading the criminal organization. Authorities believed Becerra took care of the children before they were to be sold.
A gynecologist and a pediatrician have also been arrested.
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Authorities said the organization identified marginalized women in the late stages of their pregnancies through a network of corrupt employees working in clinics across Arequipa. The women targeted were later persuaded to sell their babies.
According to the investigation, which was based on evidence emerging from phone tapping, babies were sold for $1,200.
Prosecutors are investigating if the network was involved in illegal international adoptions or even organ trafficking.
InSight Crime Analysis
Despite the fact that the US State Department gave Peru a positive review for its efforts to combat human trafficking in 2017, the country still fails to comply with minimum international standards. Its deficiencies include proper coordination between police and prosecutors at the departmental level, and the effective distribution of resources.
Also,the State Department notes that corrupt officials are taking part in these crimes, which makes them harder to stop. Becerra, a national police director, is a prime example.
Reports from victims of human trafficking in Peru have increased from 300 in 2016 to 1,400 in 2017, according to official figures.
SEE ALSO: Human trafficking
Evidence has yet to emerge that Becerra used his official capacity to facilitate the trafficking group’s operations. But reports from El Comercio citing irregularities in the investigation, and Becerra’s preferential treatment since his arrest, have generated doubts that justice will be served.