A Texas man and his girlfriend were sentenced to nine years in prison for recruiting Mexican women to give birth in the U.S. and sell their babies to couples there, a judge said Wednesday.
Amado Torres of Harlingen and Maria Isabel Hernandez of Mexico paid women up to $3,000 for their newborns, Tamaulipas state Judge Jose Luis Bazan told The Associated Press. He handed down their sentences for child trafficking Jan. 29.
Bazan said the pregnant women were smuggled into the United States to give birth so their babies would be U.S. citizens, making them more easily adoptable.
Torres and Hernandez received up to $13,000 from U.S. couples for the babies, court secretary Mario Alberto Cervantes said.
This isn't an uncommon tactic in the border states, even absent the smuggling of and payment to birth mothers. Even adoption agencies have been known to "encourage" Mexican women to cross the border to give birth in the U.S. so that the simpler domestic adoption rules can be followed instead of the more difficult international adoption rules.