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Human trafficking ring cracked: report

Police have arrested 18 people suspected of kidnapping children and women in China and trafficking them across the country, state press reported.
By HT Correspondent | AFP, Beijing
UPDATED ON JUL 14, 2008 10:43 AM IST

Police have arrested 18 people suspected of kidnapping children and women in southwest China and trafficking them across the country, state press reported on Monday.

Eight victims, including one child who was kidnapped and sold only seven days after being born, were rescued, the Beijing News said.

Police began investigating the crimes when several children in Yunnan province began disappearing in May, the report said.

Following a two-month investigation, police cracked down on the ring, arresting the 18 suspected traffickers in Yunnan, neighboring Guizhou, and Henan and Shandong provinces to the north, it said.

Seven children, mostly aged between three and four but also including the newly born infant, were rescued and returned to their parents in Yunnan's Quqing city. A woman, whose age was not given, was also rescued by the police, it said.

The report did not divulge the sexes of the children, nor did it say the total number of women and children that gone missing in Quqing in recent months.

On Sunday, five of the suspected traffickers were brought under armed guard to Quqing where they are expected to face trial with the other 13 suspects, it said.

According to the report, the traffickers sold four of the children for a total of 42,000 yuan (about 6,000 dollars).

Trafficking of women and children remains a problem in China with many sociologists blaming the nation's "one child" family planning policy for fuelling the crime.

Under the policy, aimed at controlling the world's largest population of over 1.3 billion, people who live in urban areas are generally allowed one child, while rural families can have two if the first is a girl.

This has put a premium on baby boys, while baby girls are often sold off as couples try for a male heir.

Last month, a man convicted of heading a gang that kidnapped 38 young boys between 2001 and 2004 and which sold them for about 1,800 dollars each was executed in southern China's Guangdong province.

In September last year, Chinese police busted a baby trafficking ring that resulted in dozens of people being accused of buying and selling at least 40 infants in eastern China's Shandong province.

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