Chinese police rescued 92 children and two women who were abducted from southwestern and central provinces of the country and detained about 302 suspects of an alleged trafficking gang, state media reported, citing the Ministry of Public Security.

According to state news agency Xinhua, the gang stole, bought and sold children from Henan province in central China and other provinces including Yunnan, Guangxi and Sichuan in southwest and sold them in other regions.

Authorities did not reveal the exact date when the children were rescued or their gender. The massive operation involved police forces from 11 provinces, and is the latest in a series of such measures taken by police forces to crack down on child and women trafficking, which has become a serious problem in China.

Critics point out that child trafficking has become rampant in China following the government’s one-child policy. The single-child norm, along with traditional preference for boy children in Chinese societies has led to selective abortions and female infanticide, negatively impacting the gender balance.

According to authorities, most of the abducted children are sold for adoption to childless couples or as servants, while women are forced into prostitution or in some cases are bought as brides by unmarried men who were unable to find brides due to acute shortage of women.

The government is considering implementing tougher laws that would impose harsher punishment on people who buy kidnapped children, and on parents who sell their children, to curb child trafficking menace, the state media reported.

In 2011, police said they had freed more than 13,000 kidnapped children and 23,000 women over the past two years.