Indonesian police have arrested four people for their alleged involvement in a baby-selling operation on Instagram.
Police identified one of them as 22-year-old “LA,” a mother who had tried to sell her 11-month-old baby, her third child, because she was in debt.
“According to [the mother’s] statement, the baby was the result of an affair,” Surabaya Police criminal investigations chief Sudamiran told a press conference on Oct. 9, the BBC reported.
On Oct. 3, police intercepted the planned sale in Surabaya, Indonesia. They arrested LA and Alton Phinandia, the alleged owner of the Instagram page, and seized an adoption statement, cash, and mobile phones that contained WhatsApp messages about the sale.
The baby buyer, based in Bali known as NS, was due to pay 15 million Indonesian rupiah ($985) to LA, 5 million rupiah ($330) to a broker, and 2.5 million rupiah ($165) to Phinandia, the BBC reported.
LA and Phinandia were arrested in Surabaya and the baby buyer and a midwife were arrested in a resort in Bali, according to police.
The four could be jailed for up to 15 years for violating child protection laws.
Disguised as ‘Family Solutions’
While this baby sale has been intercepted, police said they were still looking for at least one more baby that they think may have already been illegally sold via the Instagram page.
The Instagram page was titled “Konsultasi Hati Privat,” or Private Heart Consultation. Its page description translated to “helping to cover someone’s disgrace,” according to news.com.au. It claimed to offer “family solutions” and “consultations” to pregnant women.
Police said they started their investigation when they saw the page was offering adoption services. The page appeared to be targeting mothers who conceived out of wedlock—a social taboo in Indonesia, a Muslim-majority country, where the Instagram account was based.
While none of the posts explicitly said that babies were up for sale, a telephone number was provided on the Instagram page so potential buyers could contact for more details via WhatsApp, police said.
“People who want to adopt children use that account and the transaction is completed through WhatsApp,” said Surabaya Police criminal investigations chief Sudamiran, according to news website Detik.
The Instagram account also listed the personal details of the women that were offering their babies—including their age, stage of pregnancy, religion, and health.
Instagram removed the page on Oct. 12 upon being alerted of the situation. At the time, the page had more than 760 followers.
“The safety of our community on Instagram is our absolute priority,” an Instagram spokesman told the BBC on Oct. 12. “Our policies clearly prohibit people from engaging in criminal activity and coordinating harm on our platform, which includes the sale of humans.”
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