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Hundreds held for traffic in babies
Mainland police arrested 802 people and rescued 181 infants this week in one of the largest crackdowns on baby trafficking, busting two syndicates operating across 15 provinces.
For the first time, police found clinics collaborating with baby traffickers and providing 'technical support', such as sex determination and delivery. In some cases, babies were even auctioned.
At 10pm on Monday, 10,000 police officers in 15 provinces, including Hebei, Shandong, Sichuan, Fujian, Henan and Yunnan, raided premises identified by earlier investigations.
A statement posted on the Ministry of Public Security website said the police got their first lead in December after they arrested four suspects on a bus in Henan who were on their way to sell four babies.
After questioning the suspects, they became aware of a baby trafficking syndicate operating in Hebei, Fujian and Yunnan.
In April this year, police from Xingtai, Hebei, became suspicious because a clinic in Pingxiang county was being visited frequently by pregnant women from other places. They uncovered another massive baby-trafficking ring, controlled by Ji Xiaofang and Yang Xuehua and operating in provinces including Sichuan, Hebei and Shandong.
Ji and Yang also collaborated with three other clinics in Guangzong, Julu and Wei counties in Xingtai. The clinics helped arrange buyers and provided medical check-ups and sex determination and assisted in births, because the health of the babies and their parents affected the prices.
In some cases, potential buyers would inspect the appearance of the parents before agreeing on a price, the Beijing News reported yesterday.
The operator of the clinic in Pingxiang, Guo Yanfang, joined the syndicate after Ji and Yang brought many women - usually with Sichuan accents - to give birth in her clinic.
Ji, from the Daliangshan district, an impoverished mountainous area in Sichuan, took pregnant women who wanted to sell their babies to Xintai - instead of bringing babies - because it made the traffickers less of a target of the police.
Some mothers said their children would end up in better families, but many trafficked children suffered brutal treatment or died.
Chen Shiqu , director of the ministry's anti-human-trafficking campaign, told China Central Television: '[They] often forced infants to take sleeping pills, so that during long-distance travel, they could avoid people noticing them.
'When some children got sick, [the suspects] did not give them any medical treatment, but threw them into bushes, leaving them to die in the wild.'
Sun Jinli, from the public security bureau in Zaozhuang , Shandong, who participated in the crackdown, told CCTV the suspects were driven by the lucrative profits on offer.
An intermediary such as a doctor could pocket 2,000 to 5,000 yuan per baby, while ringleaders like Yang could pocket 6,000 to 8,000 yuan.
The mothers would receive 30,000 to 50,000 yuan in return. A boy could be sold for 70,000 to 80,000 yuan, while girls fetched 30,000 to 50,000 yuan, the Beijing News said.