THREE men have been arrested in Iran on suspicion of selling two babies on Instagram – for between £2,000 and £2,500.
The babies had already been "purchased" for £500 each and were being resold – one was just 20-days old, the other two months.
One of the arrestees allegedly told cops in Tehran they bought the babies form "poor families" for a small fee and were"handing them over to families who could provide a better future".
Police Chief Brig-Gen Hossein Rahimi told local media the force had been alerted to advertisements selling babies on Instagram.
He added officers uncovered ten to 15 sick pages advertising the sale of babies.
The two children have been handed over to social services, Rahimi said.
Iran Focus describes the horrific trade as a "social problem that has spread its ominous shadow over the Iranian family and society during the rule of the Velayat-e-Faqih regime".
Parliament member Soheila Jeloudarzadeh described how the country struggles to get to grips with actual stats, due to the secretive nature of the trade.
She said: "Since this is a crime and is done in secret, we do not have official statistics unless we investigate it through arrests and complaints to reach an approximate number.”
"Given the poor economic conditions, we are witnessing the sale and purchase of babies and even older children.
“The reason for buying and selling children in our country is general poverty and lack of awareness… In every country where there is poverty, there is child buying and selling. In our country, public poverty has led to an increase in the sale and purchase of babies and children.”
And earlier this year a similar sick scheme was uncovered in the country, with a group of four men and one woman arrested for allegedly preying on vulnerable pregnant women, paying their hotel fees and then snatching their babies after birth.
Unverified reports from Iran Focus also suggest there is a baby-trade inside hospital walls, dubbed "birth-centres" where newborns are snatched from pediatric wars by staff, and sold on for profit.
In 2016, former Vice-President for Family and Women's Affairs Shahindokht expressed concern over the number of expectant mums signing up to hand over their babies for cash.
She said women in vulnerable positions due to drug addiction, child marriage and homelessness were forced into the unthinkable situations.
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