Police in Tehran arrested three men this week for attempting to sell newborn babies on Instagram, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported.
According to RFE/RL’s Iranian branch, Radio Farda, Tehran police chief Hossein Rahimi announced on June 23 that three individuals were arrested after they tried to sell infants on the social media platform Instagram. After being notified of the attempt, police in Iran located the men, who were found in possession of “a 20-day-old and a 2-month-old baby.” The men claimed to have taken the infants from “poor families” for a “small fee.”
The babies have since been placed in the care of a state welfare organization, according to police. Iranian authorities said they have also identified the babies’ parents.
During the investigation into the sale of the babies, police said they discovered “between ten and 15 [social media] accounts involved” in what they now believe to be an “infant-selling ring,” the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA), a state-controlled news outlet, reported.
According to ISNA, a third baby was identified in the infant selling ring but has yet to be located.
The babies rescued in the arrests on Tuesday were sold to the men by their families for between $1,187 to $2,375. The men had posted the sale of the babies to Instagram with their new price listed as between $9,500 to $11,875, according to the report.
The owner of Instagram, Facebook, has since said it is investigating the reports of human trafficking, which is prohibited on the platform.
“We do not allow content or behavior on Instagram that may lead to human exploitation, which includes the sale of children for illegal adoption. We’re aware of reports of this activity, and we’re continuing to investigate,” a statement released this week said.
According to Tehran’s police chief, in recent days police in Iran have received “several” reports from citizens about the online sale of babies on social media platforms, an ongoing problem in the country.
This year, Iranian police arrested five members of a separate infant-selling ring in the northeastern province of Gorgan, RFE/RL reports. In that case, a man and four women are accused of paying “poor” pregnant women for their hospital expenses, then taking their babies away after they gave birth.