This is the moment a boy kidnapped as an infant by his mum’s tenant is returned to his parents almost exactly two decades later after cops used facial recognition technology to find him.
The reunion on 24th July was made possible by facial recognition technology as well as a string of hardworking detectives, who eventually found the now 20-year-old university student living in the same province.
Mum Wang Hua says her then five-month-old baby boy was led away and abducted by her tenant surnamed Zhou and his accomplices on 12th May 1999.
The group of six child traffickers working in the city of Shenzhen in China’s southern Guangdong Province had targeted the boy and planned to sell him in order to earn more money.
According to police in Shenzhen’s Pingshan District, the suspects sold the infant to a willing couple for 10,000 RMB (1,165 GBP), though the boy’s foster parents did not appear to be aware of his true origins.
Wang said: “I carried my son’s baby pictures with me for 20 years, asking people about him wherever we went.”
Wang said she and her husband visited every major city in Guangdong as well as Sichuan Province in south-western China.
They paid special attention to announcements made by renowned not-for-profit Baobei Huijia (Baby Back Home), an NGO responsible for helping to find more than 2,000 trafficked or lost children since its inception in 2007.
Wang Wei, chief of the Kengzi Police Station, revealed that successive investigations continued working the cold case despite having no further leads.
A breakthrough came in 2018 after they received word that main suspect Zhou was seen in faraway Urumqi, capital city of north-western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
The police made their arrest on 26th May last year and went on to detain the five others involved in the kidnapping.
However, despite arresting all six suspects, they were no closer to finding the boy himself.
In the year that followed, the authorities said they collected Wang and her husband’s photos as well as any pictures they had of their infant son.
The images were sorted through a mass of data in Guangdong, with the facial recognition system finally identifying the 20-year-old male student as a likely match.
A DNA test confirmed the boy as Wang and her husband’s long-lost son, who had been living just a few miles away in the same province, and their meeting was arranged this week.
The young man called the reunion “very emotional”, but admitted he was feeling “confused inside” due to the news.
He did not reveal whether he would be moving back home with his biological parents.
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