JAKARTA - The Indonesian police have arrested three suspects over a plan to sell a three-month-old baby boy to Singapore for almost $11,000.
Acting on a tip-off, police from the Riau Islands province raided a house in Batam last Wednesday (June 15) and arrested three Indonesians - the baby's father, a midwife and a broker. They also seized a documented receipt confirming the transaction of a baby for US$8,000 (S$10,742).
"Investigations are ongoing but we have found strong evidence of baby selling," provincial police spokesman Superintendent Hartono told reporters on Wednesday (June 22).
The boy's parents, who are Chinese, were facing economic hardship and had intended to sell him to Singapore, he said.
Supt Hartono would not disclose the buyer's identity. "I can't give more details as investigations are still ongoing," he said.
Anti-trafficking groups say the case is only the tip of the iceberg.
Mr Syamsul Rumangkang, head of the Anti-Trafficking Agency in Batam, said the baby-selling racket is an "immaculate network" involving many people.
Some of the transactions take place even before the babies are born, he said.
"So the pregnant woman goes to Singapore and gives birth there. The buyer, usually from the middle-class, has prepared everything," he said, adding that each baby can be sold for US$5,000 to US$10,000.
Trafficking of babies from Indonesia to other countries, including Singapore, is not new.
A long-time human trafficker, a midwife and brokers were among seven women arrested in 2013 after the police found a baby destined for Singapore at a house in Jakarta.