A breaking news story out of Arizona reports that a Republican politician in Maricopa county was arrested after being caught funneling pregnant women from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean to the state of Utah, where the women would give birth and then the babies would be sold in Utah, known for its heavy Mormon presence:
An Arizona politician orchestrated an illegal adoption scheme that smuggled at least 40 pregnant women from a Pacific Island nation into Utah, prosecutors said.
Paul Petersen, who was re-elected as assessor of Maricopa County in 2016, was arrested in Arizona late Tuesday for allegedly recruiting and transporting pregnant women from the Marshall Islands by offering them up to $10,000 to give up their children in the Beehive State, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said.
“The commercialization of children is illegal, and the commoditization of children is simply evil,” Reyes told reporters during a news conference Wednesday.
Investigators started looking into the Republican — a licensed adoption lawyer in Utah, Arizona and Arkansas — after a hospital worker in Utah called a tip line to report a possible illegal adoption involving a Marshallese woman.
That led authorities to unravel a scheme that they allege involved dozens of women between December 2016 and August, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
The pregnant women stayed at homes throughout north-central Utah and came to the state in some cases just weeks prior to giving birth, prosecutors allege.
One adoptive couple told police they visited a residence in West Valley City that housed at least 15 pregnant women — a “baby mill” that the couple claimed “just did not seem right,” according to charging documents cited by the newspaper.
It’s unclear exactly why Petersen chose Utah to allegedly smuggle the pregnant women, but Reyes cited the state’s lax adoption rules and its high Marshallese population as possibilities.
Petersen, whose website claimed he was successful in “hundreds of Marshallese adoptions” prior to it being shut down, also served a two-year mission in the Marshall Islands for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Reyes said.
Court documents allege that Petersen charged adoptive families up to $40,000 per child, raking in about $2.7 million in less than two years.
Authorities will not work to “unwind” any of the adoptions, which violated a compact banning Marshallese residents from traveling to the US for adoptions without a special visa, Reyes said.
An attorney for Petersen, meanwhile, disputed the allegations during his initial court appearance Tuesday, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
“These are proper business practice that they simply disagree with,” attorney Matthew Long said.
Petersen is facing charges in Utah, Arizona and Arkansas, including human smuggling, sale of a child, fraud, forgery and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Arizona’s governor, Republican Doug Ducey, has called on him to resign. (source)
This is a developing story, and it will be interesting to see where it leads.
There are several things one must naturally wonder about.
Utah, the center of Mormonism, is known for child sexual abuse. Consider the infamous case of the abuser Warren Jeffs, a Mormon cult leader.
The Romney and Huntsman families are both major Mormon families, and many Mormons feature in major roles in the Republican party. One cannot help but wonder if they have ties, what said ties might be, and how they might figure into this case, be it either of these families or the Republican party at large.
This story took place in Maricopa County, AZ, which is on the border with the Mexican-bordering Pima County, AZ, home to Tucson and where there was an investigation into a major child sex trafficking ring in 2018.
We do not know if this is related at all. What we can say is that given the incidents with child trafficking and the stories about them such as with Pizzagate, Epstein, and now this, and in light of scandals such as the Dutroux scandal, it will be interesting to see what details come out in the mainstream news.