The official Xinhua News Agency said all six suspects arrested Thursday worked in Inner Mongolia, a region of sprawling grasslands that has become China’s dairy heartland. Countless small dairy farms dot the grasslands, with milk collected at stations and then sold to large dairy companies.
One suspect, identified by Xinhua only by his surname Cui, ran a collection station and allegedly confessed to mixing about 25 gallons of water to 544 gallons of fresh milk. He then added 21 ounces — about three or four cups — of fake protein, which contained melamine, to hide the fact that it was diluted.
Xinhua said he sold the tainted batch to Mengniu Dairy Group Co. on Sept. 18 — well after the deaths and illnesses of infants due to melamine had begun to appear in local Chinese media.