PHNOM PENH, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- A Cambodian court on Tuesday charged 18 people with cross-border human trafficking in the latest case of illegal surrogacy business, a court spokesman said.
Eleven surrogate mothers, two men and two women working as cooks were arrested on Nov. 8 during a raid by Cambodian authorities on a surrogacy business at a house in Phnom Penh, as three other suspects are on the run.
Ly Sophana, a spokesman for the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said a court prosecutor charged all of them, including the surrogate mothers, with cross border human trafficking and acting as intermediaries in illegal surrogacy.
Under the charges, if found guilty, they could be jailed up to 15 and a half years.
The spokesman declined to disclose the nationality of the intended parents, whom those surrogate mothers are carrying the babies for.
The Southeast Asian nation banned surrogacy practice in 2016, describing it as a form of human trading.
In June this year, authorities arrested 33 surrogate mothers, two brokers and one operator of the surrogacy ring. They were all charged with human trafficking and being intermediaries for surrogacy.
In August last year, a Cambodian court sentenced Australian fertility specialist Tammy Davis-Charles to one and a half years in prison for running a surrogacy clinic in the country.
At that time, Davis-Charles confessed to the court that she had arranged for 23 Cambodian women to carry babies for 18 Australian couples and five American couples, and she charged a foreign couple 50,000 U.S. dollars for surrogacy services and paid 10,000 U.S. dollars to Cambodian women to bear pregnancies on their behalf.