Page last updated at 17:18 GMT, Wednesday, 7 April 2010 18:18 UK

Police smash Israeli organ-trafficking ring


A retired army brigadier general is among six suspects arrested by Israeli police investigating an organ-trafficking ring, police say.

The organisation offered as much as $100,000 (£65,600) for kidneys, which were transplanted by doctors in poor countries, a sting operation uncovered.

Police said they had been "shocked" by the extent of the smuggling ring.

Retired Gen Meir Zamir, arrested in connection with the trafficking, won a medal of valour in the Yom Kippur War.

'Dream come true'

The trafficking ring came to light after a 50-year-old woman from Nazareth came to police.

We ran an undercover investigation and we were shocked by the proportions of this
Superintendent Ahron Galor

She told them she was flown to Azerbaijan where doctors removed her kidney.

On her return to Israel she was expecting to be given $100,000, but she never received the money.

Another 18-year-old man complained to police after he was offered $80,000 and flown to the Philippines to have the operation.

"We ran an undercover investigation and we were shocked by the proportions of this," Police Superintendent Ahron Galor told Ynet News.

"We learned there are many people willing to sell a kidney for just £10,000. These are people who have severe financial difficulties, for whom such a sum is a dream come true."

Forging documents

The traffickers advertised online, suggesting there was another solution for people who had been waiting for kidney transplants for years.

They offered the kidneys for sale for $140,000.

As well as Gen Zamir, two lawyers were among those arrested in the sting operation.

The lawyers are suspected of forging documents which said the recipient and donor were related.

Police said members of the ring tried to cover their tracks by hiding the Israeli medical records of the donors.

This made it hard for donors to be treated if they became sick following the surgery.

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