Although we were told he has violent tendencies, Julio presented himself as a jovial and pleasant young boy. He stroked and tugged at my arm while continuously begging to have his picture taken. His broad smile was comprised of a mouthful of crooked teeth framed by parenthetical dimples. Just eight years old, he lives with fourteen other children at a church home we funded a few years ago near Guatemala City.

Julio was bred for a business transaction. His mother received money to get pregnant on the condition that she would turn over the newborn to a crime ring that specialized in sourcing children for international adoption. Sometimes these women collaborated with their boyfriends or husbands. Sometimes they were prostitutes that used unprotected sex to score a bigger payday. And sometimes they were conveniently impregnated by members of the crime syndicates. In all cases, poverty drove their decision to turn womb from incubator to factory.

As agreed, Julio’s mother relinquished her infant to an intermediary that would temporarily raise him before his sale to a home for ‘orphaned and abandoned’ children. There he would stay until a lucrative adoption could be arranged.

Julio’s intermediary owners soon began to suspect that he might have some sort of disability. Once confirmed, they were unable to pass him down the supply chain. The final organization wouldn’t take him. He was damaged goods with a no-return policy.

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Human trafficking takes many forms. Find out more at Traffic Jam.