Arizona politicians connected to child trafficking in the Marshall Islands.

by Brian Shilhavy
Editor, Health Impact News

The residents of Arizona have been in shock for the past week, and the rest of the nation has looked on in horror as local mainstream news in Arizona has reported about a federal investigation that led to the arrest of Paul Petersen, the Maricopa County Assessor and a Mormon adoption attorney, who is being detained by federal officials for trafficking children from the Marshall Islands.

The Honolulu Civil Beat was probably the first media source to expose the black market illegal adoption practices of Paul Petersen before his arrest last week, reporting on it last year.

The Civil Beat has reported on how the women from the Marshall Islands were recruited to give up their babies for adoption in America based on false promises.

Civil Beat’s investigation showed how, despite reforms two decades ago to give the Marshall Islands control over all international adoptions, U.S. attorneys such as Petersen were ignoring a treaty between the two nations to fly pregnant women to the U.S. to hand over their newborns to American couples.

Many Marshallese birth mothers said they did not know they’d be severing all connections to their children, a form of adoption largely unknown in their culture.

U.S. Attorney Dak Kees said Petersen told Marshallese women to lie to U.S. Customs officials about their reason for traveling to the U.S. Once here, the pregnant women lived in overcrowded conditions, sometimes four to a room or on the floor without a bed.

“Make no mistake, this is the purest form of human trafficking,” he said.

Petersen charged adoptive couples $35,000 to $40,000, authorities said. But the Marshallese birth mothers only got about $10,000 — sometimes less, after the costs of travel, health care and housing were siphoned off.

Earlier this week ABC15 in Phoenix visited some of the pregnant Marshallese women who were being housed in poor conditions in two east valley apartments.

“They were promised that it would be an open adoption, until they’re children are 18, that their kids will come here and grow up in the United States and be able to provide for their families back home,” said the women.

Words that couldn’t be further from the truth. As roaches crawl across the floor, the women talk about running out of food and money. Their thoughts constantly returning to their unborn children.

“They haven’t received any medical assistance since last month,” said the women.

All seven are due to give birth in the next four months. Their phones, passports, and other documents seized during Petersen’s arrest. They say they were never threatened by Petersen or his associates but at least three of the women have decided to keep their babies. (Source.)

Using Political Influence to Increase Adoptions

As Maricopa County Assessor, Petersen used his influence to help get Doug Ducey elected as Governor of Arizona in 2014.

Petersen then pushed for legislation to make it easier for people to adopt children. On his private adoption website,, which has been apparently shut down since his arrest, this message was written to prospective Arizona step-parents:

Paul has been instrumental in making the law in Arizona more accommodating for step-parents and other close intra-family adoptions. He assisted in the drafting and passage of a law, passed unanimously by the Arizona Legislature in 2012, that eliminated the need for step-parents to obtain a home study prior to adopting.

How interesting that here at we get stories all the time, especially from Arizona, testifying how CPS will come into a home a remove a child from that home if they find things they do not like, such as too many dirty dishes, firearms, medical marijuana, and many other things that are used against parents to seize their children and put them into foster care.

But if you want to adopt one of those children, Petersen and his influential friends helped push legislation through where a home visit is not even necessary anymore, thereby increasing the number of eligible step-parents to adopt.

As County Assessor, Petersen also pushed for tax credits for people who wanted to adopt foster kids:

Petersen also tweeted his approval of Governor Doug Ducey’s appointment of Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery to the State Supreme Court:

With an apparent ally now on the State Supreme Court, who was going to replace Bill Montgomery as Maricopa County Attorney? Maricopa County is the 4th largest county in the U.S., and the place where most of Petersen’s adoptions took place.

Not to worry. Governor Ducey appointed Allister Adel, the former general counsel for Arizona Department of Child Safety (CPS), the agency responsible for putting children into foster care, as the new Maricopa County Attorney.

The Mormon Connection

Mormon Temple in Mesa, Arizona. Image Source.

Paul Petersen did his Mormon missionary service in the Marshall Islands where he learned the local language. According to Civil Beats:

As a young Mormon missionary in the Marshall Islands, Petersen learned to speak Marshallese, and made lasting contacts. An international adoption agency recruited him because of his fluency in Marshallese while he was still a college student, and he travelled to the islands to arrange adoptions.

Many of his current clients also are Mormon and learn of him through friends and relatives.

Paul Petersen has strong connections to the Arizona political scene, especially with his fellow Mormons. In 2013 he tweeted about Arizona Senator Jeff Flake visiting the Marshall Islands:

Jeff Flake is Mormon, and according to the Brigham Young University Alumni News, he traveled to the Marshall Islands in 2015 with New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich, also a Mormon.

Some have criticized Health Impact News for attacking the Mormon religion, but it is not the Mormon religion we are exposing, but some of its leaders.

One Arizona Mormon lawmaker has recently come under fire, NOT for participating in child trafficking, but for trying to expose it, showing that there are Mormons who genuinely care for the welfare of Arizona children. See:

Arizona Senator Threatened by Fellow Lawmaker for Stating That Foster Kids are Being Sold into Sexual Slavery

What about Petersen and his political friends and their potential connection to child sex trafficking in Arizona, as has been revealed by whistleblower Neal Sutz, an Arizona father currently living in Switzerland and fighting to get his kids back?

We interviewed Mr. Sutz on the Medical Kidnap Show this week to get his insider perspective on child trafficking in Arizona, and talk about any possible connections to his former in-laws and the current political leaders involved in the Petersen case. (If you missed Neal Sutz on last week’s show, listen to it here.)

Podcast version is here.

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