Category Archives: Child/Baby Trafficking

Chinese Police Bust 103 Baby Traffickers, Rescues 37 Infants

Police in China have rescued 37 babies after swooping on 103 child traffickers across four regions in Shandong province, China Central Television reported. — PHOTO: REUTERS

(CNN)Police rescued 37 babies and a 3-year-old girl after busting a child trafficking ring in eastern China’s Shandong province, reported the state-run China Central Television.

The newborn babies, many suffering from HIV/AIDS and malnutrition, were sold for between 50,000 yuan to 80,000 yuan ($8,000 to $12,912 dollars). The boys fetched higher prices than girls, according to the online video report published on Tuesday.

Babies were often transported in large handbags and suitcases to prospective buyers. And they were allegedly fed instant noodles and leftover vegetables, according to Chinese state media.

Authorities have arrested 103 people, suspected of trafficking or purchasing the infants.

Police spotted a suspicious group of pregnant women being ushered into an abandoned factory in the city of Jining, last July, where they found baby diapers and other evidence of it being used as an “underground delivery room.”

“We noticed there has been some new developments in the methods for child trafficking related crimes,” Chen Shiqu, director of the Ministry of Public Security’s Anti-trafficking Office told CCTV.

“For example, some criminal gangs would send pregnant women who are about to give birth via public transport to another city. The babies are then sold after the women give birth,” says Chen.

Squalid conditions

An investigator who was on the case said they detained seven suspects and found one baby nearly smothered under blankets in the run-down factory with squalid living conditions.

“At that time, the baby’s face was already turning purple, if we didn’t search through those blankets, that baby may have already died,” said Liu Yang, a police investigator.

In a two-month sting operation following the raid, police discovered that the babies were often transported from the factory in bags to a hospital for infectious diseases in a nearby suburb where they were kept, awaiting buyers.

“Out of the 37 babies we rescued, almost none of them were healthy. All had varying levels of some sickness. They let the babies eat instant noodles,” said Hou Jun, a local police officer.

One of the buyers, Liu Zhiyou said an agent told him it was an illegitimate child from a student.

Some of the babies have remained with their adoptive parents, while others are in orphanages. The 3-year-old was reunited with her mother, according to Chinese media.

According to Chinese law, child traffickers can be imprisoned up to 10 years for selling more than three children or sentenced to death in more serious cases.

Major concern

Child trafficking has become a major concern in China, as traffickers seek to profit off a growing demand for healthy babies from potential adoptive parents both in China and beyond.

In March last year, Chinese officials uncovered four child-trafficking rings and arrested more than a thousand people for using websites and instant messaging groups to sell babies.

A Chinese obstetrician was also convicted for selling babies after telling their parents they were sick in early 2014.

 

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Utah Attorney General Went Undercover to Bust Child Sex Trafficking Ring, 55 Children Rescued

Republican party supporters gather for election results 06

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes addresses a crowd during an election night party for Utah Republican candidates at the Hilton Hotel in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. IAN MAULE, Daily Herald

Utah’s attorney general says he posed as a bodyguard and translator during a secret mission coordinated with authorities in Colombia to rescue more than 55 child sex slaves from a gang on an island off the country’s Caribbean coast.

Sean Reyes, the state’s top law enforcement official, said on Thursday he played the role of Spanish-speaking interpreter and muscle for the sting set up by Operation Underground Railroad, a Utah-based nonprofit organization that works with police to fight child sex trafficking worldwide.

“It’s not a black-ops deal,” Reyes, a Republican, said of the operation that took place last October.

The sting had the support of both the U.S. and Colombian governments, Reyes said. Two U.S. Department of Homeland Security investigators were also present, an advisor to the attorney general said.

Reyes accompanied a small group of men who posed as wealthy investors in a plan by Colombian criminals to build a child sex hotel on the Rosario Islands, an archipelago southwest of the resort city of Cartagena.

In video footage released by his office, members of the Colombian security forces are seen landing by boat and ordering everyone, including Reyes, onto the ground at gunpoint.

“Everything happened so quick. Bang, bang, the take-down,” Reyes told Reuters in an interview.

“The hardest part was standing there listening to these traffickers, having them slapping us on the back and jubilant and thinking that we were all friends and partners,” he said.

“I’m crawling out of my skin, as the father of a 12-year-old, when they bring out an 11-year-old and offer her up as the grand prize because she’s a virgin and she’s not been touched yet.”

The Utah group said children as young as 10 were among those rescued, and that some 40 others were picked up elsewhere by local law enforcement.

“We’re bringing them back into custody so they can stand trial and suffer the consequences of their depraved practices,” Reyes said.

Colombian police officials did not immediately have details on the operation.

Reyes said he took part because “it’s critical that people throughout the world understand what an epidemic human trafficking really is.”

The attorney general, a father of six, said the arrest almost a year ago in Utah of a Guatemalan man, Victor Rax, showed the problem of child sex slavery striking close to home.

Rax was charged with smuggling in Central American boys, sexually abusing them, and making them carry drugs into schools in what Reyes called “the sleepy little communities of Utah.”

Rax committed suicide in jail last April.

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis in Denver; Additional reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb in Bogota; Editing by Will Dunham)

KSTU-TV

 

Mexico: Nearly 500 Children Held as Sex Slaves

mama rosa.jpg

Rosa del Carmen Verduzco,”Mama Rosa,” is a noted children rights activist whose group home was often visited by politicians.

Federal and state police officers raided a group home Tuesday in the western state of Michoacan and rescued 458 children who were forced to beg for money and suffered sexual abuse while being against their will in filthy conditions, Mexico’s top prosecutor said.

Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said police also rescued 138 adults from “La Gran Familia” (The Great Family) group home in the city of Zamora.

The residents were kept in deplorable conditions, fed rotten food and made to sleep on the floor among rats, ticks and fleas and many of them were never allowed to leave the premises, Murillo Karam said at a news conference attended by top federal investigators and Michoacan Gov. Salvador Jara.

“I’m in utter dismay because we weren’t expecting the conditions we found at the group home,” Jara said.

Police detained the home’s owner, Rosa del Carmen Verduzco, and eight workers for questioning, Murillo Karam said.

Verduzco, known in Zamora as “Mama Rosa” or “La Jefa” is a noted local children rights activist whose group home was often visited by politicians. Local media on Wednesday published several photographs of her with former President Vicente Fox and his wife, former Michoacan Gov. Leonel Godoy and other officials.

The investigation began after five parents filed complaints last year with authorities because they weren’t allowed to see their children at the home, Jara said.

One of the parents was a woman who grew up and gave birth to two children at Great Family, which has been open for 40 years. She was allowed to leave when she was 31-years-old but Verduzco kept the two children, who had been registered under her name, said Tomas Ceron, head of the Criminal Research Agency at the Attorney General’s Office.

The mother of one of the boys held said Wednesday she was only allowed to see her child three times a year and that the home’s owner demanded $2,800 to release him.

Veronica Gamina told The Associated Press by telephone that four years ago she took her then 9-year-old boy to The Great Family group home in the city of Zamora because she had to work and couldn’t take care of him.

But when she returned to reclaim her now 13-year-old boy, “they told me to write letters explaining why I wanted him back, then they asked me for 37,000 pesos ($2,800 USD) but I make 800 pesos ($60) a week and couldn’t get the money together,” Gamina said. She spoke from outside the home, which was being guarded by police, and where she said about 70 parents had gathered.

Gamina, a 28-year-old sandwich shop worker, said she went to authorities after hearing about conditions at the home from someone who escaped.

Mexico’s federal Attorney General’s Office said the children remained in the home Wednesday while authorities made sure they were being fed and looked for places to transfer them. The youngsters were also being checked by doctors.

Nigeria: Boko Haram Threatens to Sell Over 200 Kidnapped Schoolgirls

Muslim women attend a demonstration calling on the government to increase efforts to rescue the 276 missing kidnapped school girls of a government secondary school Chibok, in Lagos, Nigeria, May 5, 2014.

Muslim women attend a demonstration calling on the government to increase efforts to rescue the 276 missing kidnapped school girls of a government secondary school Chibok, in Lagos, Nigeria, May 5, 2014.

The Islamist militant group Boko Haram on Monday claimed responsibility for kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls in northeast Nigeria last month and threatened to sell them, while protesters continued to press the government to rescue them.  

“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in the video, according to the French news agency AFP.

Boko Haram on April 14 stormed an all-girls secondary school in the village of Chibok, in Borno state, then packed the teenagers onto trucks and disappeared into a remote area along the border with Cameroon.

The militants kidnapped more than 300 teens, Nigerian police sources previously had indicated. Of those, 53 reportedly escaped and 276 still are captive. An intermediary for Boko Haram said two of the captives have died of snakebites and 20 are ill, the Associated Press reported on Monday.  

The teens’ abductions have embarrassed the government and threaten to overshadow its first hosting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) for Africa. The three-day gathering is scheduled to open on Wednesday.

Nigerian officials had hoped the event would highlight their country’s potential as an investment destination since it became Africa’s biggest economy after a GDP recalculation in March.

Protest leader arrested
 
On Sunday, authorities arrested a leader of a protest staged last week in Abuja that had called on them to do more to find the girls. The arrest has further fuelled outrage against the security forces.

Naomi Mutah Nyadar was picked up by police after she and other demonstrators met with President Goodluck Jonathan’s wife, Patience, concerning the girls.
 
Nyadar was taken to Asokoro police station, near the presidential villa, said fellow protester Lawan Abana, whose two nieces are among the abductees.

Police were not immediately available to comment on the incident, but a presidential source said Nyadar had been detained because she had falsely claimed to be the mother of a missing girls. Abana denied making the claim.
 
In a statement, Patience Jonathan denied local media reports that she had ordered Nyadar’s arrest, the state-owned News Agency of Nigeria said.
 
She also urged protesters in Abuja to go home.
 
“You are playing games. Don’t use school children and women for demonstrations again. Keep it to Borno, let it end there,” the agency quoted her as saying.

Demonstrations continuing
 
More protests were planned for Monday.  These could become a major headache for the government if they continue during the WEF event, where security arrangements will involve some 6,000 army troops.

On Sunday, Nigeria’s president said the government was doing everything possible to rescue the girls but admitted he didn’t know where they were.
 
“Let me reassure the parents and guardians that we will get their daughters out,” President Goodluck Jonathan said.   

Unconfirmed reports say some of the girls have been “married” to their captors, while others allegedly have been moved across the border into Cameroon and Chad.

Boko Haram, now considered the main security threat to Africa’s leading energy producer, is growing bolder and extending its reach. The kidnapping occurred on the same day as a bomb blast, also blamed on Boko Haram, that killed 75 people on the edge of Abuja and marked the first attack on the capital in two years.

The militants, who say they are fighting to reinstate a mediaeval Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria, repeated that bomb attack more than two weeks later in almost exactly the same spot, killing 19 people and wounding 34 in the suburb of Nyanya.

19 Pregnant Girls Freed in Nigerian ‘Baby Factory’ Raid

Latest in a series of raids targeting traffickers rescues 19 pregnant women and girls, between the ages of 15 and 23.

Human trafficking is the third most common crime in Nigeria [Al Jazeera]

Nigerian police have raided a home in the southeastern state of Abia where 19 pregnant women were staying with the intent of selling their newborn babies.

Police suspect the owner of the house is a broker in a child trafficking ring, police spokesman Geoffrey Ogbonna said on Friday.

“The proprietress fled before our men got to the place,” Ogbonna said. “We met her son and his wife. They are in custody.”

The 19 mothers-to-be, between the ages of 15 and 23, were rescued at various stages of pregnancy, Ogbonna told the AFP news agency.

Friday’s discovery of the so-called baby factory in the capital of Umuahia was only the latest in what has become a human trafficking epidemic in southeast Nigeria.

A series of black market maternity homes, that take a portion of the profit for the sale of each child, were discovered over the past year.

In most cases, these homes provide an escape from the stigma of conceiving a child outside of marriage.

Common crime

Some of the women told police that they “ran from home to escape the stigma of having unwanted pregnancies they cannot take care of”, Ogbonna said.

But other reports suggest some women have been kidnapped and forcibly impregnated by traffickers. Though police think these cases are extremely rare.

Buyers are mostly couples who are unable to have their own children. Male babies fetch more money than female babies.

“Couples looking for children should go through the legal adoption process,” Ogbonna said.

It is illegal to buy or sell children in Nigeria. Human trafficking, including the selling of children, is the third most common crime after fraud and drug trafficking, according to the United Nations.

 

Chinese Police Rescue 92 Kidnapped Children in Human Trafficking Ring

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Sleeping tablets were used to render captives unconscious.

Adrian Wan

Police have rescued 92 abducted children and held 301 suspects in connection with the bust of one of the biggest cross-country child-trafficking networks on the mainland in years.

The suspects are said to have sedated the children, many of whom were under the age of two, including some newborns, with sleeping pills to render them docile while they were transported to sellers.

Police in Henan province began to investigate the ring in March and started to detain people on September 11, state media reported on Friday, citing the Ministry of Public Security. Suspects have been held in 11 provinces.

Members are believed to have collected children in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces by either purchasing them or deceiving the parents. Deliverymen would take them to sellers elsewhere on the mainland in a highly organised operation, the ministry said.

“The ring members took buses or the train to go to places like Henan, where some of the children were sold, while others would be taken to Shandong or Hebei ,” said the leading police officer in the bust, Chen Shiqu. “The children are very little, and were fed a lot of sleeping pills. It must have wrecked them mentally and physically,” Chen said.

One woman suspected of delivering the captives said feeding the babies sleeping pills “spared a lot of potential trouble” because they would be sound asleep for a day or two. She said she got 4,500 yuan (HK$5,680) for smuggling each child. A notebook owned by one of the suspected ringleaders showed the details of each transaction. Most babies were sold for about 20,000 yuan each.

The ministry said it was drafting a law in co-operation with the judiciary and the prosecutor general to impose harsher punishments on traffickers and buyers, and that parents who sold their children would also be sentenced severely.

But Beijing-based lawyer Zhang Zhitong, of Jingrun and Partners, was doubtful whether the heavier punishments would stop the practice, as long as the demand for other people’s children existed.

“Those who sell and buy children are usually in inland, poorer areas, and people know little about the law. They see the economic incentive – from thousands to tens of thousands of yuan – and think it’s a good deal,” he said.

The total number of children that the gang has kidnapped is unknown

Zhang said the market was fuelled in part by the adoption law. Rather than navigating the bureaucracy that was involved, adults would sometimes turn to traffickers instead, he said.

A month ago, it was revealed that a maternity doctor in Fuping county in Shaanxi province sold over 20 newborns after lying to parents that the babies had died or had serious birth defects.

In 2011, 178 abducted children were rescued in an operation that saw more than 600 people detained across 10 provinces.