Ukrainian police have smashed an Israeli-run organ-trafficking network illegally recruiting organ donors to send their body parts to Israel.
Ukrainian authorities said on Friday that twelve people, most of them Israelis, were arrested for taking part in a scheme to recruit organ donors from Ukraine and other former Soviet countries via the Internet and transplant the organs into Israelis who had ordered them in advance.
The network, which sought mostly kidneys, offered as much as $10,000 per body part and according to Ukraine’s interior ministry most of the organ donors were impoverished young women.
The head of the ministry’s department on human trafficking, Yuriy Kucher, said the transplant surgeries, which cost up to $200,000 an operation, were performed in Kiev, Azerbaijan and Ecuador.
Four surgeons are among the arrested. The Israeli head of the ring was arrested last month.
Initial investigations revealed that the ring’s profits totaled an estimated $18 million a year. The illegal network was operating for three years.
Those arrested could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of human trafficking.
The latest Israeli-involved organ scandal comes nearly four months after another organ trafficking ring was discovered in Israel, which offered $100,000 for kidneys in its advertisements in local newspapers.
While the organization sold the kidneys for $140,000, some of the organ donors received no money after their kidneys were removed in countries, including Azerbaijan and the Philippines.
A retired Israeli army brigadier general and two lawyers were arrested in connection with this trafficking.