Police officials say they have cracked a massive child-abduction ring extending from the country's western frontier to the east coast. In a joint operation, Fujian and Yunnan police said they had netted 77 suspects since February, rescued 17 baby boys and determined the whereabouts of a further 15 boys. Eight suspected members of the trafficking gang are still at large. The man allegedly at the centre of the ring, Hu Dehai, from Yunnan's Yanjin county, has been accused of arranging the purchase of more than 60 abducted babies for up to 4,000 yuan each over the past three years. He is suspected of hiring about 20 Yunnan women to pretend to be related to the boys and to deliver the children to Fujian's Changting county. From there, brokers resold the children to families across Fujian, Jiangxi and Chongqing for between 16,000 to 18,000 yuan per baby. The crackdown began in February when police caught nine female traffickers in Changting. One boy was rescued, while another boy died. Traffickers tend to target boys more often because they can command a higher price. Zhu Yantao, a national public security official in charge of abduction cases, said infertile couples and those affected by the one-child policy tended to want sons because they still believed boys were a greater blessing. Parents of missing children from Kunming in Yunnan hope their babies are among those found. Last year, the three-year-old son of Duan Zhongxian, 31, was kidnapped but he has yet to hear from the local police about his child. 'I would be extremely happy if my baby is found this time,' Mr Duan said. 'My life has seemed so meaningless since my baby went missing, but I am so excited at the news [that some babies have been found].'