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By Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja / news.asiaone.com
The Straits Times
Tuesday, Feb 12, 2013
JAKARTA - Indonesian police have broken up a ring that has been selling babies in other countries, including Singapore, possibly since the 1990s.
A long-time human trafficker, a midwife and brokers were among seven women arrested last month, after police found a baby destined for Singapore at a house in Jakarta.
In a disturbing twist, a police investigator told The Straits Times that the Jakarta syndicate might even have been supplying babies not just for adoption but possibly for organ transplants of their hearts, livers and kidneys.
The arrests came after a four-month-old named Teddy Lukas was found at the home of 62-year-old Hastuti Singgih, chief detective Lieutenant-Colonel Hengki Haryadi told reporters yesterday. There, police also found S$500 and a passport issued from fake documents.
A Tiger Airways manifest showed that the baby, Ms Hastuti, and a broker named Librawati Dwi, 48, were booked on a flight to Singapore on Jan 9, but postponed it to Jan 20.
A Singaporean identified only as Mr Chow had bought Teddy and had visited Jakarta to check his health before handing over a down payment of S$500 to Ms Hastuti, a police investigator working with Lt-Col Hengki told The Straits Times. Mr Chow has since left Jakarta.
Police found Teddy after a raid in Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta, in December last year, launched after a tip from residents who noticed suspicious activity at a clinic frequented by the poor.
"This is what has made the syndicate hard to detect," Mr Hengki told reporters in his office yesterday.
"They have been operating from clinic to clinic, approaching the poor mothers. Many have been willing to give up their newborns thinking they would be better off."
A police investigator working with Mr Hengki told The Straits Times that investigations revealed that the Jakarta syndicate might even have been supplying babies for their organs. "We have records of SMS communications among the syndicate members," said the investigator, who asked not to be named. "There are so far indications, not evidence."
Police estimate that Ms Hastuti sold as many as 12 babies in November and December last year alone, and has been in business since 1992.