Illustrative photo (Photo: VNA)

Phnom Penh (VNA) -  A Cambodian court on November 13 charged 18 people with cross-border human trafficking and violation of surrogacy law.

Police said the group includes 11 surrogate mothers, two cooks and two managers, who were arrested during a raid in Phnom Penh on November 8. Three other suspects are on the run. If found guilty, they could be sentenced to more than 15 years in prison.

Cambodian authorities declined to disclose the nationality of the intended parents whom those surrogate mothers are carrying the babies for.

Cambodia 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 a 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. She charged each foreign couple 50,000 USD for surrogacy services and paid 10,000 USD to Cambodian women to bear pregnancies on their behalf.-VNA