Friday January 25, 2013
Child trafficking ring busted
By ROYCE TAN
GEORGE TOWN: Police have busted one of the largest child trafficking rackets in the country with the arrest of 33 people and the rescue of nine children aged between two months and eight years.
A doctor from a private hospital here and an employee of the National Registration Department (NRD) were among the suspects nabbed from various places here, in Perak and Kedah.
Police seized 19 handphones, two cars, five MyKid cards, 18 medical cards and RM15,000 in cash from the suspects, aged between 23 and 62 and took away 14 birth certificates.
The mastermind of the ring is a woman in her 50s who is among those in police custody.
Penang police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi said the syndicate which sold babies and children for between RM18,000 and RM30,000, had been active since 2009.
He said police set up a task force with 25 officers after receiving a report last month about a foreign woman selling a 40-day-old baby for RM4,300.
“Under our operation codenamed Ops Pintar Sayang, we managed to rescue nine of the children from adoptive parents who had bought' them. The children are believed to be of Thai, Indonesian and Bangladeshi parentage,” he told reporters at the state contingent headquarters here.
He released pictures of the children - with the eyes blacked out - to the media. Names and photographs of children are protected under Section 15 of the Child Act. The children have since been taken to a shelter under police supervision.
DCP Abdul Rahim said the group's modus operandi was to look out for pregnant but unmarried Thai and Indonesian women who were facing financial problems.
“The women will be offered between RM2,500 and RM4,500 depending on the gender and looks of the babies,”
“But they will be sold to childless couples together with original birth certificates for between RM18,000 and RM30,000,” he said.
He said investigations showed that the NRD employee was involved in the issuance of original birth certificates to the adoptive parents, based on the race of the babies.
Thai babies were usually sold to Chinese couples; those from Indonesian mothers to Malays while babies from Bangladeshi mothers were sold to Indian couples.
DCP Abdul Rahim said the suspects were being investigated under Section 14 of the Anti-Human Trafficking Act, which carries a jail term of not less than three years and not exceeding 20 years upon conviction.
He said police were also probing if there were other NRD employees involved in the syndicate.