Police in China recently broke up a baby trafficking ring that operated in six provinces, arresting 171 suspects and rescuing 64 traded infants.
These traffickers differed from those in the past: Instead of transporting the newborns, they transported the pregnant women in an attempt to avoid police scrutiny.
But it involved putting the pregnant women in awful conditions while they waited in labor—in at least one instance, they had them wait in a pig farm until they were ready to give birth.
Some of the women were also drug addicts, the reports said, meaning that the children were born with a range of medical problems.
The state-run newspaper Beijing Times carried a report on the affair on April 23.
One of the baby trafficking groups was organized by a 72 year-old female named Qin Yunxiu. Qin, along with her son and daughter in-law, were the brokers. Most of Qin’s sellers were migrant workers from southwestern China’s Sichuan Province, in need of cash, and eager to unload the burden of a baby.
Qin would connect buyers with sellers, and then arrange to bring the pregnant woman close by—which is where local pig farms or brick factories came in handy.
When they were due to give birth, Qin would arrange a doctor’s appointment at a local clinic, purchase a birth certificate from the doctor for about 4,000 yuan ($645) and arrange the buyers to legally register the children.
The babies had price tags, too. A male infant was sold for 70,000 ($11,298), while a female would fetch 50,000 yuan ($8,070), police said. Qin earns a few thousand yuan from each transaction.
Chen Shiju, one of the police commanders in charge of investigating the case, said that traffickers have become more clandestine and harder to track in recent years.
Whereas police used to inspect passengers with newborns at train and bus stations, now traffickers rarely employ these channels.
The use of pregnant women, however, brings additional dangers to the infants. For example, in order to save money and stay in hiding, many of the pregnant women ate less than they should have, and neglected their own health while waiting for the baby to be born. Some were also addicted to drugs. Many of the trafficked babies thus had health problems, the police said.
The rescued babies have been sent to orphanages where they wait—hopefully—for their biological parents to take them home, or for new families to adopt them.