Some people will do almost anything to make money. From the ridiculous to the immoral, when greed takes ahold of someone even breaking the law isn’t out of the question. But, as the common theory goes, every criminal makes a mistake, leaving themselves open to getting caught.
In order to make the greatest profit, a gang set up an operation selling one of the most treasured and precious things in the world. When they posted an unusual advertisement online, however, someone with a conscious stepped in before it was too late.
A Global Marketplace
While the Internet was first lauded as a way to help people from around the world stay connected, it quickly became a booming international marketplace where practically anything can be sold to buyers all over the globe. This amazing development in free enterprise also came with pitfalls, however.
A Disturbing Advertisement
Today, it’s impossible to go online without coming across advertisements in the form of interstitials, banners, full page takeovers, etc., for all sorts of goods and services. And most of which, though potentially annoying, are legitimate advertisements. But in June of 2018, a concerned citizen in China came across an advertisement that stopped them in their tracks.
A Baby For Sale
The ad, which was posted on Facebook and other websites in mid-June, was for a “newborn healthy baby boy.” At first, the viewers of the ad didn’t believe a real baby was being sold online, but when they clicked on the link to read more, they were horrified by what they saw.
Putting A Price On Life
Inside the advertisement, the seller explained that the newborn baby boy, which was being sold for just 60,000 yuan, equaling about 9,200 U.S. dollars, had just been born in a hospital in Yiyang, China. According to the seller, the baby’s parents were unable to care for him.
The Shocking Details
Along with more information about the birth parents, who “felt unable to raise a second child,” the seller included two videos of the infant to prove he was healthy. “Please come to Hunan, Yiyang quickly,” the seller wrote to anyone serious about buying the baby. Not being able to raise a second child may be a plausible concern for struggling parents, but putting advertisements online to sell a baby outright was too unusual to ignore.
Contacting The Police
While the advertisement was probably seen by hundreds of people in the days it was online (some may have thought the ad was fake, or, because the Internet is oversaturated with advertisements, may have simply ignored it), only a handful of people were concerned enough about the child to call the police and report the concerning and illegal advertisement.
Time Is Of The Essence
“Multiple media outlets and an unnamed individual reported that infants were being trafficked from a hospital in Yiyang on June 21,” a local police department said in a statement. Because a life was literally on the line, detectives immediately opened an investigation. The whereabouts of the baby were unknown, as was the issue of the child’s safety, which made the situation even more dire.
The police’s objective was to find out if the advertisement was legitimate, find the seller, and locate the baby that was for sale before it was too late. If they found that the child was really in danger of being sold online, they’d have to act quickly. Besides that, if the ad was legitimate, there could’ve been more children being sold.
The First Arrests
Investigators made their way to the hospital where the baby had been born. When they arrived, they found three suspects at the scene. Thankfully, the baby hadn’t been sold yet, and the police arrested the suspects at the scene for attempting to traffic an infant.
The Investigation Continues
“The department arrested three suspects at the scene,” the department said in a statement. It appeared as if their job was finished, but according to the police, they continued to investigate the situation and were horrified by what their digging uncovered.
The Tip Of The Iceberg
During the investigation, police found that the three suspects originally arrested were just the tip of the iceberg. Not only were there more people involved in the case in question, but the suspects were members of a gang that had formed a business out of selling people. Human trafficking, for these gangsters, had been big business — at least that’s what they were going for.
A Criminal Enterprise
“After the establishment of an investigative panel, we arrested three further suspects. So far, there are six people [in custody] and the case remains under investigation,” the police said. They found evidence that made them believe this wasn’t the first baby the gang had tried to sell. And so even though they found the culprits behind the ad, they believed there were more people out there doing the same thing.
A Never Ending Supply
According to the police, the gang, based out of Yiyang, Hunan province, would routinely contact pregnant women after arriving at the hospital to give birth and ask them if they were considering giving up the child for adoption. As it turned out, some parents were actually willing to depart with their newborn children.
The buyers would persuade the parents that they could find a suitable family (a buyer, basically) within three days of the birth. And to the parents, the deal probably sounded completely legitimate. Unfortunately for the children involved, sometimes the parents gave in and actually gave them up.
An Appalling Declaration
“I give up my infant voluntarily [and] for free. I hope you [the adopted parents] can treat him with kindness,” the declaration, which the mothers were forced to sign, read. After that, the gang would post ads online on places like Facebook and WeChat, a popular messaging platform. After that it was only a matter of time before finding a buyer.
Sold To The Highest Bidder
According to the police investigation, the members of the gang had contacts at hospitals across the city, which gave them access to more babies to sell to complete strangers on the internet no matter what their intentions with the child. So it wasn’t simply gang members performing a trick to earn some cash, but instead was a network of criminals conspiring to engage in the human trafficking of small children — literally newborn babies.
An End To The Operation
Thanks to the concerned citizen that took an interest in the unusual ads, not only was one baby saved, but an entire enterprise of human traffickers in China are no longer in operation. To think that if these folks didn’t notice an unusual ad on a social media website, the gang would still be selling children today.
Highlighting A Bigger Problem
While this innocent baby and others in the area have been spared for now, officials explained that countless other infants are still at risk since child trafficking is rampant throughout China, especially in poor regions of the country. Even though this was a big win for the fight against missing persons, the war is far from over.
A Hot Commodity
While China doesn’t release statistics on child kidnappings to the public, it’s estimated that about 70,000 kids go missing every single year. In fact, kids in China have become such a commodity that the government was forced to create an anti-kidnapping task force. Maybe events like this will prompt the Chinese government to release the data … one can only hope.
A Tragic Fate
According to experts, some children are also willingly sold by their parents for money as they live in extreme poverty and can’t afford to raise their own child. Once in a trafficker’s custody, the children are either sold to families looking to adopt or are forced to work as thieves, forced laborers, or prostitutes. If you ever see an unusual ad, especially those that claim to be selling babies (or humans of any age, for that matter), take action, call the police. You could be saving countless lives.