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November 2, 2009

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Raids release missing women

SEVERAL young women were rescued by law enforcement officers in a series of raids over the past week to crack down on pyramid sales schemes based in Maoming City, southern China's Guangdong Province.

Suspected pyramid sales teams in Maoming are being blamed by police for the disappearance of at least 150 young women nationwide.

Their families lost contact with them immediately after they arrived in the city, reported a China Central Television program on Saturday.

Many were coaxed to Maoming by people they knew, the report said.

Qi Xianlun, from Qianjiang in central China's Hubei Province, began searching for his daughter on October 8. Qi told CCTV that his daughter, 24, had worked for a school in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province's capital, as an English teacher for about two years before a former schoolmate invited her to Maoming to apply for a better-paying job at a petrochemical plant.

However, Qi then lost contact with his daughter and was told by a factory worker that it was not recruiting when he tried to pick her up.

Qi is staying at a hotel in Maoming which has become a temporary home for several other parents searching for their missing daughters.

Zheng Fei, aged 21, was searching for his missing girlfriend who was brought to Maoming by her former schoolmate on October 2.

Ransom demand

Zhang Juntai, a father from central China's Henan Province, was warned by a text message to transfer money to a bank account, otherwise his daughter Zhang Xiaoying would be forced into prostitution, according to the TV report.

Luckily, Zheng received tip-offs sent by his girlfriend and she was rescued in a raid by local police, business administration officials as well as officials from local courts and the housing administration. She was rescued along with a dozen others last Monday.

With her assistance, several other suspected gangs were caught.

Maoming has set up an office to crack down on the gangs, said Chen Bo, deputy director of the bureau, which was set up by local businesses.

Local farmers were willing to rent houses cheaply to the gangs, which needed enough space to accommodate people they coaxed to join then, Chen told TV reporters.

The rental has become a major income source for local farmers who work downtown for low pay or couldn't find a stable job, Chen added.


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