Scores held, 15 infants freed as crime ring busted

Updated: 2016-01-20 05:18

By By  ZHANG YAN(China Daily)

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Police in Sichuan province have cracked a major crime ring and arrested 78 suspected infant-traffickers, authorities said on Tuesday.

They also rescued 15 abducted infants aged between several days and 1 year old, according to Liangshan Prefecture Public Security Department in Sichuan.

The rescued infants have been sent to the Liangshan Prefecture Welfare Institute for temporary placement. Most of them are in stable condition, although some have pneumonia, colds and coughs.

A police officer from the department, who did not wish to be named, said, “We have taken the infants’ blood samples and are preparing to match them with the blood DNA kept in a national database to help them to be reunited with their biological parents.”

Police said that in June, the 78-strong gang, headed by a Tibetan villager in Liangshan, seized the infants and sent them to Shandong province to be trafficked. The gang included the villager’s family members, fellow villagers and friends, according to police.

The gang members were managed strictly and assumed different tasks, including trafficking infants, transportation, accommodation arrangements and seeking buyers, the police said.

Provincial police reported the infants’ disappearance to the Ministry of Public Security, which took over supervision of the case and told Sichuan and Shandong police to set up a special investigation team.

After a two-month investigation in Shandong, the team carried out a joint operation on Friday, making the arrests and smashing the trafficking ring.

Police arrested 66 suspects in Shandong and another 12 in Liangshan.

On Monday, four officers escorted 36 suspects from Liangshan among the 66 back to the prefecture from Shandong by train. They also returned the 15 abducted infants to Liangshan on the same train.

Chen Shiqu, director of the Anti-Human-Trafficking Department under the ministry’s Criminal Investigation Department, said, “Poverty is often the motive behind selling children in China’s remote and rural areas, including Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces.”

“Children are not commodities, and trafficking them is illegal. We will adopt zero tolerance toward such anti-social activity,” Chen added.

According to Zhang Baoyan, the founder of Baby Back Home, a website that helps parents to track missing children, in remote areas poor couples depend solely on farming to make a living and support their families. Due to a lack of education, some even collude with traffickers to sell their infants to earn money.