Foreigners forced into sex become brood mares for gangs Criminal syndicates are cashing in on the baby business, in some cases forcing poor foreigners to get pregnant and selling their babies. Syndicate members watch over the pregnant women, paying all their medical bills until the babies are born, said Nawawi Ismail, deputy head of the Criminal Investigation Department. They then sell each baby for between M$20,000 ($41,000) and M$50,000. Boys fetch higher prices, and younger infants command a higher price than older babies. Police said the syndicates were also smuggling pregnant women from Indonesia into the east Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak and hiding them until they gave birth. Mr Nawawi, speaking at a forum organised by Unicef on reducing harm and exploitation of children, said police last year arrested members of a gang that had held 30 pregnant women at a flat in Sarawak. 'After the babies are born the mothers are paid off and sent back,' said Mr Nawawi. 'The babies by virtue of birth are Malaysian citizens and are sold to childless couples.' Describing baby-selling as a new 'growth industry', Mr Nawawi said the rise of such syndicates was also being driven by an increase in the population of foreign workers in Malaysia. Most babies were sold within Malaysia, he said. In some cases migrant workers were forced into the act, while others were willing to participate for a share of the profits. Police had rescued 35 babies and arrested 47 people since 2002, but many cases went undetected. 'Organised criminal syndicates are attracted by the easy money, what with high demand for babies and ready access to poor foreigners as baby factories,' he said. Police, who last week freed eight Indonesian workers held captive as sex slaves, have formed a special unit to combat the gangs. The eight women were forced to have paid sex with men to get them pregnant. The women, including two who were heavily pregnant, were rescued by police in a raid on a block of flats in a Kuala Lumpur suburb on Thursday, a newspaper reported. A 30-year-old suspect, believed to be one of the syndicate's ringleaders, was arrested. Mr Nawawi said the discovery that the eight were forced to work as prostitutes and denied contraception showed the gangs were using a 'new modus operandi'. Welfare ministry officials said a shortage of babies and a long and demanding legal adoption process were fuelling the illegal trade. Malaysia's human rights commission, Suhakam, said the fact that baby-selling had shifted from an operation run by individuals into one involving syndicates indicated the lucrative nature of the business.