Police on Tuesday arrested six men suspected of being involved in an organ trafficking ring in northern Israel. Among the suspects are an IDF reserves brigadier-general and two lawyers.
The department for fraud and misappropriation in northern Israel has been conducting an undercover investigation which began following a complaint by a 50-year-old woman from Nazareth, who replied to an advertisement in Arabic offering 100,000 dollars for a kidney.
The woman underwent medical examinations to ensure a match, and she was then flown a country in Eastern Europe where they extracted her kidney. The woman said that when she returned to Israel, she did not receive the money promised to her. Police say they have since received similar complaints.
Police also said that during the investigation they uncovered a large, very well-organized industry of organ trafficking. The ring includes organ traffickers, agents, and lawyers.
"The ring is operating throughout Israel and not only in the north, and appeals to the public through local media and internet," a police official said. "The organ traffickers somehow receive details about potential transplant candidates and they offer them their services," he said.
The investigators said that the traffickers usually demand around 120,000 dollars for a kidney transplant. While the donors, the majority of which are in serious financial troubles, are taken advantage of and receive around 10,000 dollars. Some of them get even smaller sums, and some do not receive any money at all.
The donors sign a contract and fill out fraudulent affidavits claiming a family connection between the donor and the recipient - a requirement in the countries where the surgeries take place.
Afterwards, the donors undergo medical examinations where they are categorized by blood types and other medical conditions, and are then flown to countries in Eastern Europe, the Philippines, and Ecuador.
There, the donors undergo surgery to extract their kidney, and shortly afterwards return to Israel without any medical documentation, many times suffering from medical complications.
During the investigation, police found out that a number of transplant candidates were on their way abroad to undergo surgery. Police located the donors and informed them that they were victims of fraud. Some of the donors were located at Israel's Ben-Gurion airport, right before their departure.
Investigators said that there are several more fraud victims located abroad who are due to return to Israel after they were notified that some of the traffickers were under arrest.
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