(Jamaica Observer) The lives of 17 Jamaican children in the United States may today be in danger after they were adopted and shipped off to that country by a woman the local police believe may be part of a major human trafficking ring operating between both countries.
Local police, with the help of US law enforcement officials, are currently trying to track down the children, aged between five and 16. Detectives believe that more than the 17 children could well have been victims of the illicit trade.
The human trafficking scheme was uncovered last week after the woman — a 53-year-old resident of Pleasant District in Bog Walk, St Catherine — was arrested by the Flying Squad at the United States Embassy in Kingston where she had presented forged documents in an effort to secure a US visa for a 16-year-old girl whom she had recently adopted.
Detectives believe that the woman had been operating the scheme for about two years before she was arrested.
In the latest case, a senior police source told the Observer that the woman had promised the 16-year-old that she would be sending her to the United States to work.
“She did not say what type of work it was, but she told her that she was going there to work,” said the source.
The teen has since been taken into State care.
According to the source, the accused, when cautioned, told the police that she was being paid J$60,000 for each child she sent to the United States.
So far, she has been charged with forging adoption papers for which she is scheduled to appear before the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
However, the woman could be slapped with human trafficking charges as detectives deepen that aspect of their investigation.
The police are yet to determine if the children who were sent abroad were adopted from families or from any of the State-owned places of safety. Detectives are also trying to determine whether any of the children are among the hundreds who have been reported missing.
The woman is being held at Duhaney Park Police Station.