Israel: Ten Arrested in Organ Trafficking Bust

Israeli police arrested ten people on Tuesday morning on suspicion that they belong to an international organ trafficking ring. They are also suspected of extortion, tax fraud, and inflicting grievous bodily harm. Among the suspects is one doctor.

The Israeli National Fraud Unit and the Tax Authority began a joint undercover investigation into the ring several months ago. In 2009, several countries contacted Israel to request an investigation into organ trafficking on its territory after the discovery of an organ trafficking victim in Kosovo who implicated Israeli citizens. European authorities investigating the Kosovo “Medicus” organ trafficking case provided the names of Israeli suspects they uncovered.

According to the Israeli police, the ten traffickers recruited poor day workers in Israel, and sent them to Kosovo and Azerbaijan where their kidneys were removed. The victims were promised US$10,000 per kidney, but the police believe few received any payment. Organ recipients paid between US$100,000 and US$150,000 per kidney. The traffickers did not inform the “donors” about the risks of surgery and kidney removal, and failed to provide them with medical care after the surgery.

In Israel, the victims were mostly young Turkish men, while the ring also recruited poor people from Russia, Moldova and Kazakhstan. Israeli police believe the transplant operations may have also been performed in an undisclosed third country in Asia. The investigation is still underway.

The suspects are scheduled to appear at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate court in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning.