ABILENE, Texas – A West Texas woman is accused of buying a 7-week-old infant from the child's mother for $2,000 -- to be paid in installments, Abilene police said Friday.
The woman, Marilu Munoz, 27, and the child's mother, Joana Delacruz Huerta, 29, were charged late Thursday with the sale or purchase of an infant, a third-degree felony, police said.
Police said they found out about the alleged sale from an anonymous tip Thursday morning.
Some of the scheduled payments had already occurred, police Sgt. Lynn Beard said.
"It was a one-on-one kind of thing, just someone who wanted a baby," Beard said.
Huerta remained in the Taylor County Jail on $5,000 bond. Munoz was released after posting bail Friday. Neither woman could be reached for comment, and no attorneys were listed for either of them in jail records.
Police said Huerta admitted that she had been pregnant and told officers where she thought the baby might be. Police found the child at an Abilene residence unharmed.
Police said they did not know who the baby's biological father was or how the two women had initially crossed paths. Munoz's husband, an illegal immigrant whose name was not released, was placed on an immigration hold at the county jail, Beard said.
"The first priority was finding the child," Beard said.
The infant was taken into custody by Child Protective Service, authorities said.
"We have placed her in a foster home where she is being nurtured and loved," said CPS spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner.
The agency anticipates going to court in the next few weeks where a judge will determine temporary custody.
Beard said the police investigation is ongoing and authorities don't know why the people involved did not go through an adoption agency. He said he expects additional charges to be filed.
"It's the first time in my 13 years (in law enforcement) that I remember this happening," Beard said.
Mark T. McDermott, legislative director for the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, said
"The vast majority of adoptions are done carefully and legally and with a lot of court scrutiny."
Baby-selling is a far cry from legal adoption in several ways but "in adoption, you're not allowed to pay the birth mother or birth father," McDermott said. Although a birth mother can be reimbursed for her living expenses in some states, there are very strict laws about what can and can't be paid and "no money is paid to the birth mother," the lawyer said.
Police Sgt. Lynn Beard says some of the scheduled payments had already occurred.
Police said they did not know who the baby's biological father was or how the two women had initially crossed paths.
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