Police have broken up a baby-trafficking gang in central China, arrested 28 people and recovered 27 babies, some of them just 10 days old.
The gang, based in the central province of Henan, matched buyers and sellers of babies across an area stretching from China’s east coast to the mountainous south-west, the Beijing News reported.
Thousands of children are believed to be bought or abducted every year in China for sale to families that want more children, a servant or a future bride for an only son.
The latest arrests were carried out by railway police after an undercover investigation, the report said. It didn’t identify those arrested, but said they included a husband and wife.
The babies recovered ranged in age from just over 10 days to 18 months, the newspaper said.
The gang members could be charged under laws that allow a maximum penalty of death for those convicted of trafficking three or more babies, said a police spokesman in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital of Henan. He would give only his surname, Ying.
Police haven’t found the families of the babies, Ying said. He said some people have come forward looking for missing babies, but none were families of those recovered.
Ying said he had no details on how many babies the gang had sold or how much money it took in.
In December, two men and a woman were reportedly executed for abducting and selling 11 boys aged two and three.
Police say children often are sold by unmarried mothers or families that could not afford to support them.
In May, a father was sentenced to 10 years in prison for selling his newborn son to raise money to buy lottery tickets.