Updated: 02/22/2013 20:13 | By Agence France-Presse

Malaysia busts child trafficking syndicate, rescues victims

Malaysian police said Friday they have broken up a child trafficking syndicate and rescued 21 children and babies.

Police in the northern state of Penang said 23 women and 20 men suspected of trying to buy the children were detained on Thursday night, following a nationwide operation which began late last December.

Some 33 people who ran the trafficking syndicate were arrested last month when police rescued eight babies, the national news agency Bernama reported.

The traffickers offered poor foreign women up to $1,500 for their children, it said. Earlier reports have said such children can be sold on for as much as $6,000.

The babies found Thursday night were aged between a month and nine years, Penang police chief Rahim Hanafi said in a statement on the force's Facebook page.

Police made raids in six states and the capital Kuala Lumpur to rescue the 10 boys and 11 girls, media reports said.

"We are also working closely with Interpol on a few children believed to have been taken to neighbouring countries," The Star newspaper quoted him as saying.

The 43 detainees include two foreign women and were buyers who had no children of their own, Bernama quoted the Penang police chief as saying.

Malaysian police have in recent years broken up several such rackets, nabbing Malaysians and Indonesians who bought children from poor women.

The suspects face jail terms of between three to 20 years.

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