Police in Yunnan and Shandong have smashed the mainland's biggest people-trafficking ring, responsible for kidnapping and selling 150 women and 27 children, state media reported yesterday. Forty-six people have been arrested for abducting the women and children in the Yunnan countryside and selling them in six other provinces, including Shandong, Guangdong and Jiangsu. The case is the largest on the mainland so far in terms of the number of suspects and victims, Xinhua reported on its website. Xinhua said the gang in Yunnan had been operating for a decade and was well-organised. They used anaesthesia to knock out some of their victims, and tricked other women by promising them jobs or money. The gang had set up transit houses where women were beaten or raped until they agreed to be sold to other men for marriage, it said. The victims were sold for between 2,000 yuan (HK$1,880) and 10,000 yuan each. Police were forced to adopt unusual tactics to rescue the trafficked children, some of whom had been living for years with the families who bought them. Officers would sneak into the families' homes at night and snatch them from the arms of their adoptive mothers. Xinhua said some of the adoptive mothers fainted and other family members threatened to commit suicide when the police took the children. The police employed fast cars to foil rescue attempts. Li Zhijian, one of the policemen involved in the case, said: 'I hope [we] never have such cases again. It is too heart-breaking.' Despite tough action to curb such crimes, people-smuggling remains a serious problem in poor areas. The Yunnan case came to light two days after Shenzhen police announced they had smashed a child-trafficking ring, and a month after 52 suspects went on trial in Guangxi for buying and selling at least 118 babies. China's one-child policy has fuelled trafficking in children. Many families in rural areas, limited to having only one child, have opted to buy others. Women are sold to men who cannot find spouses under normal circumstances.