News/US: Mexico pursues Douglas man accused of trafficking in kids

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Subject: News/US: Mexico pursues Douglas man accused of trafficking in kids
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Tue Oct 12 1999 - 08:07:02 EDT


Mexico pursues Douglas man accused of trafficking in kids
By Tim Steller
The Arizona Daily Star, October 8, 1999

Mexican officials are pursuing the extradition of Mario Reyes Bur-gueño, a
Douglas lawyer who last week pleaded guilty to a U.S. charge of conspiring
to traffic in children.

The extradition request stems from a Mexican investigation into Reyes and
his associates in an adoption business.

After the Mexican investigation began last October, American authorities
opened their own inquiry into Reyes and two New York state women.

The investigation led to the indictment and conviction of all three this
year in New York.

Reyes faces a likely prison sentence of up to three years and five months
when he is sentenced in New York Dec. 15.

As the American process unfolded, the Mexican Attorney General's Office
obtained an arrest warrant for Reyes and decided to try to extradite the
lawyer, said Ernesto Garcia Guerrero, the chief federal prosecutor in Sonora.

``He is a fugitive. We're hoping to put him in jail,'' Garcia said by phone
>from Hermosillo, the state capital.

If convicted of the Mexican charges he currently faces - trafficking in
children and illegally holding a minor - Reyes could be sentenced to up to
12 years in prison.

Federal police have also opened a second investigation into Reyes, Garcia
said.

The first investigation looked at only one attempt to illegally bring a
child into the United States.

The second case relates to about 15 other cross-border adoptions that may
have been illegal.

Reyes, 42, has dual citizenship and earned his law degree in Mexico. He
used to run a law office that abutted the Mexican immigration office in
Agua Prieta, Sonora.

But he apparently hasn't ventured back across the international line from
Douglas since the Mexican investigation came to light in October.

Mexican federal investigators have searched the office and seized the
property.

American immigration agents arrested Reyes, Arlene Reingold and Arlene
Lieberman in May.

They accused Lieberman and Reingold of steering potential adoptive parents
to Reyes, who they said brought the women babies or young children for
around $20,000 each.

The children were smuggled across the border without appropriate paperwork
and turned over to the adoptive parents, Reyes told investigators.

No accusation has arisen that the co-conspirators kidnapped or stole
children from Mexico.

Lieberman and Reingold pleaded guilty in July to the same conspiracy count
that Reyes admitted to last week.

Melanie Orhant
morhant@igc.org
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