BEIJING - Police in China have rescued 37 babies after swooping on 103 child traffickers across four regions in Shandong province, China Central Television reported.
The traffickers had arranged for pregnant women willing to sell their babies to stay in an abandoned factory in Jining, south of Shandong, where they also gave birth, said Mr Chen Shiqu, director of the Ministry of Public Security's Anti-traffking office. He called it a relatively new form of crime, CCTV reported.
The babies were taken away immediately after birth without being nursed, and fed on instant noodles and left-over vegetables, while their mothers left for home.
Baby boys were sold for prices between 50,000 yuan (S$11,000) and 80,000 yuan, while the girls fetched a lot lower prices, police said.
The traffickers, working in the regions of Taian, Linyi, Qufu and Jining, transported the babies in handbags and luggages to a hospital morgue, where they were hidden till buyers are found.
A police raid on the morgue revealed many babies in poor health, with some suffering bedsores because of the poor level of care, CCTV said.
The TV report which did not make it clear when the raid took place, or if the traffickers were working as part of an organised gang, said mothers that sold their babies were among the 103 traffickers detained by police.
The traffickers have been found guilty of offences linked to child trafficking and are now awaiting sentencing.
Under Chinese criminal laws, they could be jailed for upto five years.
This is not the first time traffickers have been arrested in Shandong.
In 2012, a gang of seven criminals, including doctors and traffickers, sold six babies through a local hospital in Linyi, the Legal Daily reported at the time.
The gang was caught after a couple, who regretted selling their new-born baby, tipped off the local police.