Ningbo police busted a human trafficking ring run by a woman, right, who is suspected of being the gang's mastermind. Photo:

China repatriated 33 illegal immigrants on Monday after they were found to be working in the country. They were sent back to the Philippines and Indonesia.

Last December, police in Ningbo, Zhejiang, received reports that many Filipinos suspected of being illegal immigrants had been seen in Haishu district. Investigators talked to some of them, who pretended to be deaf and speech-impaired and could only communicate using hand signals, reported, a local media organization in Ningbo.

In January, undercover police posing as a couple wanting to hire a domestic worker went to an apartment to meet a woman suspected of being the mastermind of the human trafficking ring.

Police arrested the woman, five of her employers and six Filipino workers at the apartment. They also arrested another 27 Filipinos and Indonesians in apartments in Hangzhou, Jiaxing and Jinhua in the same province.

The woman told police that her company, set up in 2013, could make up to 70,000 yuan (US$10,972) for each illegal worker, which included 40,000 yuan in fees from the employer and 30,000 in a salary deduction from the worker.

Each of the arrested workers, aged 25 to 40, made 7,000 yuan monthly. Their duties included teaching English to children and doing household chores. Some of them had worked in China for three years. The woman behind the scam and her six accomplices will face charges of human trafficking.

The arrests come after Chinese President Xi Jinping last month offered Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte jobs for 300,000 Filipinos in China.

Read: China to hire 2,000 English teachers from the Philippines
Read: Demand grows for Filipino maids in China despite law

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