A nationwide police operation has led to the arrests of 360 suspects accused of abducting dozens of deaf-mute students and forcing them to commit burglaries, the Beijing News reported yesterday. The sting by the Ministry of Public Security rooted out 61 gangs engaged in abductions from 21 mainland provinces, and rescued 70 deaf-mute people. The suspects are believed to be responsible for 345 crimes. Among those arrested was Yang Erdu, the mainland's most-wanted criminal, who masterminded a series of abductions. Police said the suspects would attract the victims, most of whom were deaf-mute students born after 1990, by posting attractive job offers on social networking websites. When the students came for interviews, the gang members seized their belongings and held them captive. The gangs physically coerced the students to commit crimes, the police said. The victims were not allowed to contact their families, talk to strangers or reveal information about the gangs if arrested by police, the report said. If the students broke the rules, they would have their ears and hand tendons cut. Police said the gang members used fake names and communicated with one other using sign language. Li Xiaoming, a gang leader, told police that he ordered his gang members, who worked in pairs, to steal goods worth at least 24,000 yuan (HK$29,650) a month Police said the deaf-mute students were both victims and criminals.