10 Idahoans Arrested for Removing 33 Haitian Children from Haiti
Ten members of an American Idaho-based charity called New Life Children's Refuge were arrested on January 29, 2010 while attempting to remove 33 Haitian children from Haiti.
The Idaho based group did not have documentation for any of the children, ranging in age from 2 months to 12 years. A spokesperson for the group has stated it was their plan to transport the children to a Dominican Republic orphanage.
The five men and five women were in custody in the capital, Port-au-Prince after their arrests on Friday night. There are fears that traffickers could try to exploit the chaos and turmoil following Haiti's January 12 earthquake quake to engage in illegal adoptions.
One of the suspects, who says she is leader of an Idaho-based charity called New Life Children's Refuge, denied they had done anything wrong.
The suspects were detained at Malpasse, Haiti's main border crossing with the Dominican Republic, after Haitian police conducted a routine search of their vehicle.
Authorities said the Americans had no documents to prove they had cleared the adoption of the 33 children -- aged 2 months to 12 years -- through any embassy and no papers showing they were made orphans by the quake in the impoverished Caribbean country.
"This is totally illegal," said Yves Cristalin, Haiti's social affairs minister. "No children can leave Haiti without proper authorization and these people did not have that authorization."
U.S. authorities could not be reached for immediate comment on the arrests.