"Wanted – kidney donor for monetary compensation," so ran an ad published in Arab and Russian language newspapers in northern Israel. Police investigators who were tipped off anonymously about the ad began an undercover operation that ended in the arrest of 10 people involved in the trafficking ring.
Those arrested are scheduled to be brought before the Nazareth Magistrate's Court on Monday after the State requested their arrests be extended.
According to the investigation dozens of people responded to the ad. The respondents underwent medical examinations in Israel and those deemed suitable candidates were sent to Ukraine, where the kidneys were harvested and implanted in another person.
"The donors would receive $35,000 for a kidney," Police Chief Superintendent Lior Boker told Ynet, "we haven't located the buyers yet, but we estimate they paid hefty sums for the organs."
"The ring was extremely well organized; each of the members had a very specific role. One would take the respondents for examination, a second dealt with passport issues, a third drove them to the airport… this was a well-oiled operation that operating according to strict guidelines so that there would be no mistakes made," said Boker.
So far police have been able to reach only four people who sold their kidneys through the ring, there appear to have been many more.
Police sources say that it is probable that the investigation will lead to charges against various medical employees.
This is not the first time that black market organ trading has made Israeli headlines. In the past a ring of Israeli traffickers was uncovered in South Africa and a recent scandal involved an Israeli doctor in Turkey who was involved in selling organs to hospitals in Eastern Europe.