Surrogacy gang arrests increase to 22, say police
Police have arrested 22 people, four of them state doctors, believed to be involved in an international surrogacy syndicate, according to the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division (ATPD).
ATPD deputy chief Pol Col Mana Klipsattabut on Friday told reporters at a press conference that a total of 23 people were involved in the case.
He identified the suspect still at large as "the foreign broker and mastermind".
"Chinese officials traced the origins of [babies] given to infertile couples in China," Pol Col Mana said.
"They have not found any evidence showing these babies were sold for the organ transplant market as reported in the media."
He noted that nearly one-billion-baht's worth of assets have been seized.
The 22 suspects were identified as being Thai and Chinese nationals and have been charged with crimes that include human trafficking and violating the surrogacy law.
Surrogacy is only permitted in this country when the surrogate mother is related to one of the prospective parents.
According to police, the 23 suspects were involved in selling surrogacy babies to parents unable to have children in China.
Police said the suspects were part of a syndicate that has been tracked for years.
In February, a breakthrough in the case, prompted raids on locations in Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Sukhothai. A total of 13 Thai and Chinese suspects were arrested. Artificial insemination equipment was also seized.
Earlier this week, the ATPD arrested two more Thai suspects in Chiang Mai. It said they were linked to the gang.
Pol Col Damrongsak Onta, head of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division's subdivision 2, yesterday said the gang had a Chinese broker, identified as Zhao Ran, who worked with locals to recruit Thai women as surrogates.
Pol Col Damrongsak said the investigation found that surrogacy is a lucrative business and has a huge supply chain.
According to police, the gang began operating in 2012 and at least 100 surrogate mothers were recruited.
The women were paid up to 450,000 baht for each pregnancy, it added.