On Feb. 19, police officers rescued 382 babies and arrested 1,094 people suspected of buying and selling infants online through a virtual black market, China's Ministry of Public Security said in a statement.
Police busted the six-month operation that took place within 27 provinces of China, after they received reports of a website promoting private adoptions. Because of China's "one baby only" restriction, families quickly turned to the black market because they could not care for their newborns.
Because boys are considered as "prizes," as they carry on the family name, they are usually kept, and baby girls are killed, sold or traded. In the black market, they are often used as wives.
"Child traffickers have now taken the fight online, using 'unofficial adoption' as a front," state news agency Xinhua quoted an unidentified police official as reportedly saying. "They are well hidden and very deceptive."
A Chinese doctor received a suspended death sentence for convincing her patients that their newborns were sick and should be given up, according to the statements posted on the local court's official microblog account. The obstetrician sold seven babies from six separate cases.
China is now considering tougher penalties for parents who sell their children as well as those who buy children.
Last year, China said it would ease family restrictions and allow millions of families to now have two children. It has yet to happen.