Police smash Buenos Aires abortion ring

POLICE IN Argentina have dismantled an illegal abortion network in the province of Buenos Aires that arranged for poor women to give birth to babies that were subsequently sold, some of them to Germany. Police raided three clinics and detained 14 people, mostly Argentines and Peruvians.

The organisation carried out abortions for between 500 and 1,500 pesos (pounds 300 to pounds 900) according to the length of gestation. Abortions are illegal in Argentina unless the pregnancy resulted from rape, or when the mother is at risk. Women who attended the clinics but could not pay were offered the chance to continue their pregnancy and put their newborn babies up for sale.

Police said urgent meetings were to be held with officials at the German embassy in Buenos Aires to investigate the international ramifications of the traffic of newborn infants. The ring was discovered after months of investigation that included telephone taps and secret filming. The mothers consented to the illegal trade.

The head of the organisation is said to be Plasencio Angulo, 55, a Peruvian doctor. In the past 10 years Angulo has been detained on three occasions for similar offences. He was arrested in the area of Claypole in a clinic where eight women were waiting for treatment.

In further raids, according to a report from Buenos Aires by the correspondent of the Spanish newspaper El Pais, 13 others were detained. Some were bona fide doctors, others had been struck off for illegal practices and others worked with forged qualifications.

Police also confiscatedpornographic articles from Angulo's home, whose walls were covered with mirrors and coloured lights. "By the posters and objects that he had in his house, and by the appearance of the bedrooms, the head of the gang seemed to be sexually unbalanced," police said.

Despite being illegal, up to 400,000 abortions are done every year in Argentina, according to the country's health ministry. Official statistics show that 200 women die annually from these abortions.

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