A Chinese child-trafficking bust has led to the arrest of 1,094 people suspected of buying and selling babies.
Authorities announced Friday that 382 babies were rescued from four child trafficking rings, spanning over 27 provinces across China, CNN reported.
The babies will be placed in orphanages a media release said, according to a New York Times blog. However, it is unclear what steps authorities are taking to reunite the babies with their families.
The Chinese Public Security Ministry said police began the sting operation last year after they discovered four websites selling babies under the front of adoption, according to the Associated Press. Online forums and online messaging platforms were also other means used to contact potential buyers.
"Child traffickers have now taken the fight online, using 'unofficial adoption' as a front," said an unidentified police official, according to China’s state news agency Xinhua. "They are well-hidden and very deceptive."
"China's Orphan Network" and "Dream Adoption Home" are just two of the websites traffickers used to sell the babies.
One of the main reasons traffickers have begun using websites and online methods is because the Internet makes it more difficult for authorities to track them down, Reuters indicated.
“Children are not commodities,” Chen Shiqu, director of China’s human trafficking task force told China National radio. “Selling babies online is in reality kidnapping for money. Just that by going online it was more concealed.”
Child trafficking has become a major issue in China, where families are generally limited to one child. This population control continues to foster a bias for sons, who ultimately carry on the family name and are responsible for taking care of parents as they age, leading to abortions and infanticides of baby girls, Reuters reported. The imbalance created by this cultural preference has lead to a high demand of baby boys and sometimes baby girls, who might provide families with wealthy dowries.
China is working to combat the problem by relaxing its one-child restriction and implementing tougher punishments for traffickers and parents who sell their children, AP reports.