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Peru arrests ex-police chief, others on baby-trafficking charges

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Peru arrests ex-police chief, others on baby-trafficking charges

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LIMA (Reuters) - Peru's former police chief Raul Becerra and a dozen others have been arrested for allegedly trafficking babies, the public prosecutor's office said on Tuesday.

The gang, which authorities dubbed "the Soulless Human Traffickers," preyed on poor pregnant women and persuaded them to give up their babies, the office added in a statement.

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One five-month-old baby was rescued in an early Tuesday police raid on 18 properties in the southern city of Arequipa, officials said, adding that those arrested included Becerra and 13 others including a paediatrician and a gynaecologist who were accused of being members of the criminal group.

Authorities said they believe Becerra's romantic partner, Cintia Tello, was ringleader of the gang.

Becerra and Tello could not be reached for comment.

Becerra became head of Peru's national police force in November 2010, during the government of former president Alan Garcia. He served about a year, and was replaced in October 2011, after a subordinate accused him of sexual harassment, according to local newspaper El Comercio. Becerra denied the sexual harassment accusations.

(Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by David Gregorio)

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