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Two Florida children who should have been placed with their South Carolina relatives in 2007 were instead returned to their mother, a mentally-ill exotic dancer and “escort” with a history of alcoholism, drug abuse, violent behavior and a rap sheet a mile long – a woman who within months illegally tried to leave the state with the children and who just days ago was arrested yet again.

How did this happen?

It’s a classic case of “bureaucratic breakdown …”

The story of four-year-old Ashleigh Rodriguez and her two-year-old brother, Aiden, is one that the administration of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist probably doesn’t want you to hear, although ironically it was a suggestion by one of his “child protection” bureaucrats that eventually brought it to our attention.

It’s a story of seedy solicitation and pornographic web pages, of high-speed car chases (with children in tow) and drug busts. In short, it’s one of those gripping, Dateline NBC-style narratives that’s only off of the national media’s radar because neither of the children involved has died – at least not yet.

But most importantly – it’s the story of a colossal, ongoing bureaucratic and judicial failure, one which managed to let these children slip through the cracks as a seemingly well-designed system time and time again refused to follow its own rules.

You’ll want to stick around for this one, we promise …