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31 infants saved as police bust baby-trafficking gang

2012-06-02 19:25 Shanghai Daily     Web Editor: Li Heng comment

Police in southwest China's Yunnan Province have rescued 31 abducted infants and arrested 76 suspects in a bust of a multi-provincial human trafficking gang.

The tightly knit child abduction ring spent 8,000 yuan (US$1,266) to 10,000 yuan purchasing an infant in rural areas of Yunnan and sold them at 20,000 yuan to 50,000 yuan each in Hebei and Shandong provinces.

It could conduct one "trade" - abducting, purchasing, transporting and selling the infants to adoptive families - in three days, said Wang Ansi, a railway police official in Kunming, capital of Yunnan.

Officers in Kunming apprehended an infant trafficker surnamed Chen, 34, a native of the province's Zhaotong City, in a railway station in May last year. That led them to other ring members, the provincial news portal (yunnan.cn) reported yesterday.

Chen gave away her involvement because she was nervous and couldn't provide information on the baby when police came to question her, authorities said.

She confessed that she spent 10,000 yuan on the baby and attempted to sell it in Hebei, police said.

In November, Kunming railway police launched a crackdown on trains and at stations, nabbing five Zhaotong natives and rescuing four baby girls. The suspects told police they bought infants from a woman identified as Sister Liu in Yunnan's Wenshan prefecture. With the help of Wenshan police, Kunming police identified Sister Liu. The 42-year-old Wenshan native, her husband, and other three family members all engaged in the illegal business, police said.

Another four family-style child trafficking rings also were found. To boost profits, the five families collaborated, the report said.

Between February and March, 11 suspects carrying 10 children were caught, and that led to another six traffickers in north China's Hebei Province, including a doctor surnamed Tian, police said.

Human trafficking problem

They were arrested in Hebei's Handan and Xingtai cities prior to March 27 and helped police locate suspects in the neighboring Shandong Province.

Police raided the family rings in Wenshan in April and May, and rescued three babies. After interrogation, the suspects revealed another four accomplices, all of the minority Miao ethnic group and living in Yunnan.

On May 7, police hunted down the four in Wenshan's Guangnan County. Between April 20 and May 15, police arrested another 34 suspects, including middlemen, in seven provinces, and saved 12 babies, the report said.

Human trafficking is a serious problem in China with many cases of young women being kidnapped in poor southwestern regions and sold to rural families in faraway provinces over the past decade, police say.

The women often are married off to desperate bachelors, while babies, preferably boys, are mostly sold to sterile couples not qualified to adopt children.

Records show that police rescued 8,660 abducted children and 15,458 women in busts of 3,195 trafficking gangs last year, according to Xinhua news agency.

Convicted human traffickers usually are sentenced to five to 10 years in prison, and serious offenders may receive capital punishment.

Greater efforts are being made to discourage would-be buyers.

"Rescued children will no longer be kept by families who have paid for them, making buyers lose both the child and the money," according to a statement on the ministry's website.

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