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Guatemala City - A recently-busted child smuggling ring charged handsomely for children sent to prospective United States and Japanese parents, say investigating prosecutors.
Ringleaders charged US couples up to $80 000 (about R568 000) for a child, and Japanese couples around $40 000 (about R284 000), say the government prosecutors who are looking into 85 cases from the past two years.
On Sunday, Costa Rican investigators in San Jose rescued nine Guatemalan infants assumed to have been for sale to foreigners.
Five Guatemalan women and a Honduran national were also arrested in the sweep, along with the former manager of the Banco Anglo Costarricense, Carlos Hernan Robles, police said.
The former bank manager had been sentenced to several years in prison in connection with the bank's bankruptcy in 1994 but was freed on appeal.
On Tuesday, five more babies - three from Guatemala and two from Costa Rica - were rescued from another San Jose home.
Two Costa Rican women - believed to be the mothers of two of the children - were arrested in the raid, officials said.
There are some 3 000 cases each year of illegal adoptions in Guatemala, an investigator said.
Doctors, nurses, midwives, attorneys, notaries, taxi drivers and funeral home workers are all involved in the network, said Sandra Sayas, the head of the office handling women's affairs in Guatemala.
Sayas refused to confirm the dollar figures but did say that child smuggling was "good business." - Sapa-AFP