Four people arrested in Indonesia after attempting to sell babies on Instagram

Indonesian police say they have broken up a child-trafficking operation that was allegedly buying and selling babies on Instagram.

Four people have been arrested including a 22-year-old mother and a 29-year-old suspected broker in Indonesia’s second largest city of Surabaya.

A midwife and a suspected buyer have also been arrested in Bali, police said in a press conference.

Authorities were alerted to an account on Instagram with the handle "Konsultasi Hati Privat" or Private Heart Consultation. It presented itself as offering adoption services and pregnancy consultations.

But, according to CNN police found evidence that monetary transactions were being carried out.

AKPB Sudamiran, head of criminal investigation unit in Surabaya’s police force, said that his team stopped an attempt by a 22-year-old mother to sell her 11-month-old baby to a buyer in Bali using messaging service Whatsapp.

The baby was allegedly being offered for just over NZ$1500.

The account had more than 700 followers and had been running for a year, but has since been taken down.

The head of Indonesia’s National Commission for Child Protection, Sustano, said social media has changed the way traffickers conduct business.

"In the old days, the transaction happened in person and it was usually arranged through a middleman," he said.

"But now, they are using new and more advance methods, through social media like Instagram and Facebook. The cyber world has become a tool for promotion and transaction."

Sustano says traffickers are drawn to social media because, "it is considered more effective, the deal happens directly between seller and buyer, and it is not easy to be detected by law enforcement."

Indonesia is a major transit, source and destination country for human trafficking.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that 100,000 children are trafficked each year in Indonesia, with the majority being forced into the sex trade.

All four of those arrested face up to 15 years in prison for violating child protection laws.

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