Police arrested 12 more people in an early morning Hebei Province sweep on Thursday amid an intensifying crackdown involving tainted milk powder that has killed three infants and sickened 6,244 others.
Shi Guizhong, spokesman for the Hebei Provincial Security Department, said 18 suspects have been formally arrested so far. Ten others were detained.
All 18 suspects were said to be residents of greater Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei. Six allegedly sold the industrial chemical melamine, while the remaining 12 were dealers suspected of selling contaminated milk.
Police also seized some 300 kg of suspicious chemicals, of which 222.5 kg proved to be melamine.
One suspect surnamed Su, who was arrested on Tuesday, confessed during police interrogation that he bought 200 bags of melamine, each weighing 20 kg, between February 2007 and July 2008 at a cost of 200 yuan (about 28.6 U.S. dollars) and resold the chemical to milk dealerships at 218 yuan.
The police is hunting for milk dealer Xue Jianzhong, who allegedly added melamine to his milk. Xue was put on the wanted list late on Wednesday.
Hebei also launched a province-wide, 10-day key task action to hunt down other violators involved in adulterating milk.
Sanlu Group Co., the dairy company based here, remains at the heart of the scandal. Its chairwoman and general manager, Tian Wenhua, who was fired, was detained by the police.
(Xinhua News Agency September 18, 2008)