On Saturday, the a court in Peru sentenced former Peruvian Police Chief General Raul Becerra, his wife Cinthia Tello, and two others to 18 months in preventative prison on charges of organizing a baby trafficking ring. Fourteen people are accused of targeting poor pregnant women seeking abortions, and then urging the women to carry their babies to term so the group could sell the babies for profit.
On the day of their arrest, the authorities rescued a five-month-old baby who would have been sold for $1,200. According to current Police General Walter Ortiz, it is suspected that Cinthia Tello coordinated the ring, which has since been nicknamed “The Soulless Human Traffickers.” Her husband, Becerra, retired from the police force in 2011 after accusations of sexually harassing a subordinate.
The five-month-old baby’s parents, their gynecologist, their pediatrician, and the women who recruited the pregnant women were all arrested as a result of the investigation, which began in May 2018. The police believe everyone who was involved has been arrested. The police are continuing to investigate where the children were sold, and if foreign adopters or organ traffickers are involved.
Peru has strict abortion laws; the procedure is only allowed if there is an immediate danger to the mother. Peru has a history of mass forced sterilizations. Former President Alberto Fujimori and his health ministers ordered the sterilization of hundreds of thousands of people in the late 1990s. Fujimori, who is currently serving 25 years in prison for violations of human rights and corruption, claimed he had created a “family planning” campaign that would help reduce poverty. Yet it soon became clear that this program targeted vulnerable women with forced sterilization, a violation of basic human rights. The number of victims remains unknown but estimates range from 260,000 to 350,000 people, comprised mostly of poor indigenous women from rural regions of Peru. Traveling from village to village, health professionals would transport groups of women, sometimes over 100 at a time, in trucks to the hospitals.
Media Resources: El Comercio 11/25/18; News 24 11/10/18; NPR 11/7/18; Aljazeera 11/7/18; Feminsit Newswire 8/4/16