Police have uncovered a large organ-trafficking ring that made its members millions, a court cleared for publication Wednesday.
Six suspects have been arrested, among them a 62-year old Brigadier-General (res.) Meir Zamir from Rishon Letzion, who received a medal of valor for the Yom Kippur War, and two attorneys.
According to the police, the ring members advertised online offering people waiting for years for a kidney transplant an alternate solution, for the price of $140,000.
Other online ads made offers of $10,000 for kidneys. To those who remained hesitant, the suspects allegedly offered up to $100,000. However the donors were never paid.
Police were given their first clue when a 50-year old woman from Nazareth issued a complaint saying she had donated a kidney due to financial difficulties, for which she expected to receive $100,000. She said she was called in to undergo a series of tests and then flown to Azerbaijan with another donor, where she was relieved of her kidney.
Upon returning to Israel,
she said, she asked those who had sent her for the money but never received it. Police launched an investigation and meanwhile received another complaint, this time from an 18-year old boy. He said he was promised $80,000 and flown to the Philippines to donate his kidney.
Superintendant Aharon Galor told Ynet, "We ran an undercover investigation and were shocked by the proportions of this. Despite the few complaints we received, we learned that 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."
Police say members of the ring also hid all medical reports after the transactions were completed, which made it difficult for the donors to receive accurate medical attention when afterwards they felt ill from the surgery.
"Sometimes there were even tragic consequences, when people went abroad healthy and returned to Israel sick and without the money," Galor said.
The two attorneys involved in the case are also suspected of forging rubber stamps in order to issue false affidavits saying the donor and the receiver were relatives.