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Shrewd detective work by a transport security officer on the cusp of retirement led to the arrest in Henan last week of a transprovincial human trafficking suspect.
As Liu Ruiguo patrolled the carriages of a train en route from Chengdu to Zhengzhou on Thursday night, a woman with an infant and scant luggage caught his eye. He directed an attendant with a nearby perch to keep close watch over her. Passing through again the next afternoon, he saw the woman feeding the dozing baby a bottle of cold milk, which further aroused his suspicion.
He escorted her to the dining car for questioning and asked her to present identification. The 38-year-old from Sichuan Province claimed this was her fifth child, barely a month old, and that she was bound for Anhui, where her husband was a seasonal worker. Liu noticed at this point that she was wearing sandals, departing from the prescriptions of the traditional Chinese practice yuezi ("sitting the month"), a set of lifestyle restrictions for the first postpartum month thought to heal the bodies of new mothers. This struck him as particularly strange, according to the Dahe Daily, and contributed to his suspicions.
While still under interrogation, the woman demanded to go the bathroom. Liu posted an attendant outside the door, who overheard her making a call. He confiscated her phone, dialed the number, and spoke with a man who identified himself as her husband but claimed to have three children and live in Guangdong.
Faced with conflicting stories, Liu reported the case to his superior. Upon inspection of the woman’s luggage, security found only a half-empty bag of powdered milk, a plastic baby bottle, tension headache medicine, and a few diapers, but no change of clothes for the infant.
Under interrogation by police in Henan, she confessed to paying 16,000 yuan (roughly $2,400) for the baby in Sichuan and planning to sell her for a 14,000-yuan profit ($2,100) in Shandong. According to The Paper, the infant is now in the care of a child welfare agency in Zhengzhou. This was likely Liu's last month on the job.