Human traffickers posing as ‘Family Welfare Institution’ shut down during major bust
A child trafficking network, that was selling children and babies for as little as $1000, has been shut down by police.
The Indonesia-based human traffickers were advertising the infants for sale via an Instagram profile that claimed to sell children globally for upwards of $1,375AUD ($1,000USD).
Four people have been arrested for their involvement the child trafficking ring that posed as a seemingly official organization called “Family Welfare Institution.”
The Instagram page for the group had over 100 posts that advertised children and babies for sale.
Some of the posts show images of, who were claimed to be, families and mothers of the children offered for sale and even pregnant women offering a baby that’s “available soon.”
“I am unmarried and seven months pregnant. My plan is to find someone who wants to adopt my child and provide me with accommodation until my pregnancy’s due date. I don’t want my family to find out,” one mother was quoted as saying.
The convincing operation claimed it was “helping to cover someone’s disgrace” by “connecting unwanted children with new families” and gave the appearance of a charity or adoption agency, when, in fact, it was selling children to anyone who paid the asking price.
Investigators found that the traffickers have been selling Indonesian babies for over a year on the Facebook-owned social media platform.
The profile for the child trafficking ring is still currently active on Instagram, with posts advertising children for sale that are still live on the site.
Authorities arrested a 29-year-old man who allegedly ran the ring, identified only as “AP.”
AP was among four people apprehended before a transaction took place during a sting operation in the Indonesian city of Surabaya this week, according to Indonesian newspaper Kompas.
The other three suspects include a 22-year-old woman who attempted to sell her infant son, a broker, and the buyer.
According to the Daily Mail, the page has posted more than 100 times, featuring distorted pictures of young women and their babies that the operators were allegedly attempting to connect with potential buyers.
One post, published on September 15, shows a pregnant woman from the Indonesian city of Banjarmasin advertising her child in advance of its birth.
“If you want to leave your child for adoption or want to adopt a child, contact us for the process,” the accompanying text reads in Indonesian.
The more recent images of the babies and some of the women have been darkened to obscure their identities, while the earliest posts, dating to September 2017, had women wearing masks.
Under each of the posts is a contact number, with the page’s owners imploring women who also wish to sell their children to reach out to them.
Some posts are of WhatsApp conversations between the operators and those allegedly attempting to sell their children.
The children for sale aren’t given names, but rather letter and number codes.
According to a local publication, of the four people arrested by Indonesian police, one was 29-year-old Alton Phinandita Prianto, alleged to operate the Instagram page.
Another was a 22-year-old mother who allegedly worked with Prianto to sell her 11-month-old child.
Police were alerted to the Instagram page when it published an advertisement for the child.
They also arrested the 36-year-old who attempted to buy the child, as well as a 66-year-old midwife in Bali who they believe acted as a mediator.
Police say the mother tried to rationalize her decision to sell the baby, which was her third child, telling them she desperately needed money for her first child’s school fees.
She also said all three of her children were born out of “nikah siri,” a type of unregistered marriage that isn’t legally recognized in Indonesia.
The four suspects have been charged under Indonesia’s child protection laws, which could see each face a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment.
In the meantime, the mother’s three children will be placed in the care of their great-grandmother.
Mark Zuckerberg-owned Instagram failed to respond to requests for comment at the time of press.