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Thai police swoop on 'transnational' surrogacy ring

AFP  |  Bangkok 

A Chinese couple and seven Thais were arrested in Thailand on Thursday charged with violating a law banning surrogacy for foreigners, Thai police said.

The former military junta outlawed the practice in 2015 after a string of scandals in a country that was once a hub for international surrogacy.

Thai police made the arrests in raids on several houses and offices in Bangkok and the central provinces of Patumthani and Sukhothai, police told reporters at a Bangkok press conference.

They found eight surrogate mothers, including one who was eight months pregnant, and also "saved" a 22-day-old baby boy and a four-month-old girl, police said.

They suspect up to 14 more children have already been trafficked to China.

"This is a transnational crime," said Major General Worawat Wattananakhonbanch.

"They planted the sperm in a neighbouring country, provided antenatal care in Thailand and then the mothers gave birth in China."

Thailand for years hosted a thriving yet largely unregulated international surrogacy industry popular with same-sex couples.

But a string of scandals in 2014 -- including tussles over custody -- spurred the military government to bar foreigners from using Thai surrogates.

One case saw an Australian couple accused of abandoning a baby with Down's syndrome carried by a Thai surrogate while taking his healthy twin sister.

In another high-profile controversy, authorities discovered nine babies in a Bangkok apartment fathered by a Japanese man using Thai surrogate mothers.

Police expanded their investigations into surrogacy since 2017 when a man was arrested for trying to smuggle six vials of sperm into Laos, Police Colonel Mana Kleebsattabutra added.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, February 13 2020. 17:52 IST