News: Defense Cites Compassion, Not Greed

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Subject: News: Defense Cites Compassion, Not Greed
From: Melanie Orhant (
Date: Wed Jun 02 1999 - 08:03:40 EDT

NY Times

                           June 2, 1999

                           Defense Cites Compassion, Not Greed

                           By GINGER THOMPSON

                                                OUGLAS, Ariz. -- Mario
Manuel Reyes Burgueño, a lawyer charged
                                                with smuggling Mexican
babies into the United States, is well
                                                known throughout this
community on the Mexican border as a
                           devout Roman Catholic and a staunch opponent of
abortion. And his lawyers
                           say his efforts to get Mexican children adopted
in the United States were
                           motivated by religious conviction and
humanitarian compassion and not by

                           Reyes, 40, a father of four, was arrested last
week on charges that he helped
                           arrange the illegal adoption of Mexican children
by parents in the United States
                           and collected large cash payments. In a bail
hearing for Reyes Tuesday in
                           United States District Court in Tucson, his
lawyer, Ivan Abrams, said that
                           Reyes was trying to help "unwanted children of
prostitutes in large measure
                           and very poor people who couldn't afford to
bring another child into this

                           Abrams added, "His intentions were good."

                           No bail was set Tuesday for Reyes. But a hearing
was set for June 8 in Brooklyn
                           at the Federal Courthouse for the Eastern
District of New York. Abrams said
                           that his client is broke and that Reyes's
parents may have to put up their house
                           to help him pay bail, if one is set.

                           In an interview, Abrams said that his client
"loathes abortion" and that Reyes
                           even wrote his law school dissertation on
strategies for stopping the practice of
                           illegal abortions in Mexico by establishing more
adoption agencies.

                           "He was not trying to hurt anyone," Abrams said.

                           People here in Reyes's hometown want to believe
that is true. The Rev. Luis
                           N. Chavez, Reyes's priest, said that after
rumors began to swirl last fall that the
                           police were investigating Reyes, the lawyer
assured him that he had done
                           nothing wrong. When church members asked about
Reyes's predicament, the
                           priest said that he told them:

                           "I do not think God is going to treat him badly.
He took children who were
                           going to be aborted, or who were going to
probably live in misery and gave
                           them a chance to have good homes."

                           But on the other side of the border, the stories
about Reyes are not as generous.

                           Eunicia Soto, who runs an independent orphanage
in Agua Prieta, Mexico, said
                           that she occasionally ran into Reyes at the
local courthouse and that he would
                           ask her whether she had any children available
for adoption.

                           "When I told him no," she said, "He would tell
me, 'Your problem is that you
                           hold on too tight to your children.' "

                           Referring to allegations that Reyes was paid
about $20,000 for each adoption he
                           arranged, she asked, "If he is such a
humanitarian who wanted to help poor
                           children, then why did he charge so much money?"

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