Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mother, couple arrested in child trafficking case

Pictured:
Nicole Uribe-Lopez
Jose-Juan Lerma

Irene Lerma

By NICK BONHAMTHE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
A Mexican mother and a Pueblo couple were arrested Tuesday on warrants for the alleged sale of a 5-month-old boy.
The 23-year-old mother, Nicole Uribe-Lopez, and the alleged buyers, Jose-Juan Lerma, 47, and his wife, Irene Lerma, 27, were booked into Pueblo County jail for trafficking in children, a Class III felony.
Each was being held Tuesday in lieu of $50,000 bail.
According to Capt. John Barger of the Pueblo Police Department, the "healthy" infant was sold for $1,500, of which $500 went for a down payment on a car. The child is now in the custody of the Pueblo County Department of Social Services...
The Lermas met Uribe about two weeks ago through mutual acquaintances of Hines, who is listed in fair condition at St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center, where he is recovering from a suspected cocaine overdose, according to the affidavit.
Police responded to the hospital at 8:10 a.m. Monday after receiving calls about the purchase. Cpl. William Wells met with Hines' mother and sister, Jody Charter and Deanna Ramirez.
Later Monday, the Lermas, Uribe and her son arrived at the hospital, probably to visit Hines. The group was then taken to police headquarters and questioned.
Charter said Uribe had previously asked her to take the child, and said the child was sold last week in exchange for a car and money, the affidavit said.
Charter told police Uribe and Hines, who had had little money, were seen last week driving a car and wearing new clothing.
Uribe, Hines and the child moved in with the Lermas about a week ago after Ramirez kicked them out of her apartment. Ramirez was tired of Hines' drug use, the affidavit said.
The Lermas, who live in the 28,000 block of Iris Road, said arrangements were made with Uribe and Hines to adopt the child. The Lermas allegedly met with a local attorney and learned the adoption process would take too long. So last Thursday at Angelus Chapel Mortuaries, Uribe and Jose-Juan Lerma signed a document giving custody to the Lermas and had it notarized.
However, Detective Anderson pointed out inaccuracies in the document regarding names and titles. The Lermas admitted knowing about the mistakes.
Uribe is from Mexico. She said in the affidavit she paid a coyote (a human smuggler) $500 to bring her to the United States so she could work and support two other children in Mexico.
One reason Uribe said she wanted to give up her newborn was to better support her children in Mexico, but she still wanted to maintain contact with her American-born son.

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