A gang that was trafficking Brazilian children to the United States has been broken up by Brazil’s Federal Police with the arrest of some 15 people.
Among those arrested was a lawyer, a notary public and a military policeman. At least three other suspects are being sought by the police for questioning.
Brazilian Police spokesmen say the gang had been operating since 2004 and had sent hundreds of children to the US for prices varying between US$ 13,000 to US$ 15,000 each.
However, this was not an ordinary child-trafficking scheme. The receptors in most cases were the children’s own parents who were Brazilians living and working illegally in the US.
The parents, after immigrating illegally themselves, hired the child traffickers to bring their children to them once they had a more or less stable situation in the US.
The gang hired people, known as "storks," to travel with the children as if they were their parents. Each "stork" got around US$ 3,000 per trip.
They boarded planes at international airports in Rio or São Paulo. Sometimes they travelled in large "family" groups, with two "storks," playing mother and father to a bunch of children.
Brazilian police and American immigration officials are working together on the case. If children "trafficked" to the US in the scheme are found, they and their parents will be deported. The police are also looking into the possibility that some of the children may have been sex slaves.