The exchange of human organs for cash or any other “valuable consideration” (such as a car or a vacation) is illegal in every country except Iran. Nonetheless, international organ trafficking—mostly of kidneys, but also of half-livers, eyes, skin and blood—is flourishing; the World Health Organization estimates that one fifth of the 70,000 kidneys transplanted worldwide every year come from the black market.
AUG 24, 2009 Illegal Organ Trafficking Poses A Global Problem HUFFINGTON POST
The recent New Jersey corruption probe, which resulted in the arrest of 44 people including state legislators, government officials and several rabbis for running an international money laundering racket that trafficked human organs, has brought Israel into the spotlight for organ transplants. Despite some growing awareness, the international organ trade industry is not well understood due to lack of information and the widespread nature of the problem.
According to theWorld Health Organization (WHO),the search for organs has intensified around the world because of an increase in kidney diseases and not enough available kidneys. Only 10 percent of the estimated need was met in 2005. As a result, the illegal kidney trade has increased tremendously over the past couple of years with the extent of illegal kidney transplants unknown even to the WHO.
Outside of Israel, Egypt, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, India and Iraq are some of the biggest players in the game. Organ trafficking is illegal in all these countries. The seller generally earns between $2,000 to $6,000 for a kidney, though post operation care is almost never taken into account. Unaware of all the risks involved, the donors often find themselves even worse off than before the operation, and with little or no money left to help them live.
Poverty and corruption are underlying themes behind sellers giving up their organs as most donors see it as the only option to make money. For most buyers, who have been waiting on transplant lists for months, desperate need and frustration push them to commit the illegal act. Often, they are told that the men and women they are buying the kidneys from are perfectly healthy and in good shape.
MAY 1, 2014 Human traffic: exposing the brutal organ trade NEW INTERNATIONALIST
In the early 1980s a new form of human trafficking, a global trade in kidneys from living persons to supply the needs and demands of ‘transplant tourists’, emerged in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia. The first scientific report on the phenomenon, published in The Lancet in 1990, documented the transplant odysseys of 131 renal patients from three dialysis units in the United Arab Emirates and Oman. They travelled with their private doctors to Bombay (now Mumbai), India, where they were transplanted with kidneys from living ‘suppliers’ organized by local brokers trolling slums and shantytowns.
JAN 7, 2011 How Corrupt Governments Make a Killing on Human Organs AOL
In December, the Council of Europe released a report alleging that Hashim Thaçi, the prime minister of Kosovo, is the leader of a criminal ring that smuggles contraband — including human organs — throughout Eastern Europe. While organ-trafficking stories are hardly new, Thaçi’s has a bizarre twist: According to the COE, the prime minister used money generated from human organ sales to cement his political power in Kosovo, and he continues to profit from the traffic, along with many members of his Cabinet.
Thaçi’s ring traces its roots to the Kosovo war of 1998-1999. At that time, NATO forces shelled the region in an attempt to expel Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic, whose Serbian forces were committing acts of genocide. At the same time, the Kosovo Liberation Army was fighting against the Serbians on the ground. Thaçi rose to power as leader of the “Drenica Group,” a prominent part of the KLA.
According to the COE report, while Thaçi owed much of his power to his relationship with the U.S. and other Western powers, he also controlled illegal trade throughout the region. In addition to human trafficking and the sex trade, the Drenica Group sold weapons, narcotics, stolen motor vehicles, cigarettes and other contraband, according to the COE.
As it expanded its smuggling operations into Western Europe, the group consolidated power through assassinations, beatings and other forms of coercion. By mid-1999, the Drenica Group was in charge of Kosovo’s construction and fuel industries, and Thaçi had appointed himself prime minister.
At the same time, the COE report asserts, Shaip Muja, a high-level Drenica official, set up a series of detention facilities that were designed to transport captives from the Serbian war front to Tirana, the capital of Albania. In addition to Serbian prisoners of war, the KLA also gathered alleged traitors, including “large numbers of ethnic Albanians, as well as Roma and other minorities.”
While most of the detention facilities were repurposed farmhouses, at least one was built for the specific purpose of organ trafficking. Located near Tirana, it included what the report describes as “A state-of-the-art reception centre. . . . It was styled as a makeshift operating clinic, and it was the site at which some of the captives held by the KLA members and affiliates had their kidneys removed against their will.” These kidneys were then sold “to private overseas clinics as part of the international ‘black market’ of organ trafficking for transplantation.” Many of these allegedly went to Istanbul, where they were used by Yusuf Ercin Sonmez, a Turkish doctor.
After the war, the organ extraction program gained a level of respectability through the development of the Medicus clinic, a hospital located near Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. Dr. Sonmez, who had been barred from practicing medicine in Turkey’s public health sector, went to work at the clinic, performing transplants for wealthy German, Polish, Canadian and Israeli patients. Donors came from Russia, Moldova, Kazakhstan and Turkey, where they were solicited with promises of huge payoffs.
In 2008, EULEX, the European Union’s legal mission in Kosovo, began an investigation into the clinic for its role in the organ trade. Recently, five doctors were indicted for “trafficking in human organs, organized crime, unlawful exercise of medical activities and abusing official authority.” In addition to claims that Medicus was illegally transplanting organs, it also was accused of cheating its donors: After removing their organs, the clinic allegedly refused to pay the donors, transporting them to the airport before they had fully recovered from their surgeries.
OCT 21, 2014 ORGAN TRAFFICKING HITS THE NETHERLANDS NL TIMES
AUG 11, 2017 Organ trafficking gang in Baghdad mostly composed of ‘Iranian women’ BAGHDAD POST
On Thursday, Baghdad Operations Command announced that a gang composed of over 18 foreign women were arrested in Iraqi capital over charges of organ trafficking. The source said that the gang was apprehended while attempting to kidnap a 13-year old girl in Ma’moon neighborhood in central Baghdad. The source also noted that the gang was carrying out its kidnappings in high-class neighborhoods such as al-Mansour, al-Yarmouk and Zayona. Initial confessions revealed that the kidnapped children were sold to a begging mafia, he further stated. He added that the gang also demanded ransoms from abductees’ well-off families.
This comes as the Iraqi capital is witnessing an increasing number of kidnappings amid a state of insecurity and lack of government control. Recurrently, the Iraqi police have announced that most of these crimes are committed by gangs affiliated with influential militias.
Baghdad has become a huge den for kidnapping gangs and organized crime, Ali al-Hiali, an attorney, said in press statements.
JUN 23, 2015 Child Trafficking Rampant in Iran CLARION PROJECT
A new special report by Al-Arabiya has exposed the problem of child trafficking in Iran. The report, part of the news outlet’s “Inside Iran” series, says that children are sold for $150 on the streets of Iran.
There are an estimated 200,000 children living on the streets in Iran. Those who are trafficked are frequently picked up from the streets and forced into child labor, begging or organ trafficking
It writes, “In Tehran, the number of teenage girls in prostitution reportedly continues to increase” while “there are 35,000-50,000 children—some as young as four or five years old—forced by their parents or well-organized criminal networks to beg in the streets of Tehran; some of these children are reportedly forced to sell drugs.”
MAR 1, 2016 ISIS Trafficking Body Organs of Living People GLOBAL RESEARCH
The Spanish daily El Mundo reported that facing the increased number of wounded members in the Syrian army and popular forces’ attacks, the ISIL is selling ng the body organs of its captives for transplants.
According to the report, the ISIL also forces the prisoners in Mosul jails to donate blood and postpones the execution of those sentenced to death to use their blood as much as possible.
The ISIL doesn’t merely use the organs of its captives and prisoners’ bodies for transplant operations for its members but it sells them to other countries as a lucrative business, it added.
Medical sources told El Mundo that the personnel in one of hospitals in Mosul have seen corpses of at least 183 people whose organs had been taken out of their bodies.
According to the report, the ISIL has set up a medical team in Mosul headed by a German physician which exports the body organs to Syria and the Iraqi Kurdistan region for transplantation to its members or selling.
Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations Mohamed Alhakim had made the same revelations last year, saying that the ISIL is trafficking human organs and has executed a dozen doctors for failing to go along with the program.
ISIS stole around 23 human organs of its dead and injured members in the Iraqi province of Nineveh for the purpose of trafficking after airstrikes left the organisation in desperate need of cash.
A source on the ground told Iraqi News on Sunday that in order to acquire quick finances to stay afloat the militant group has resorted to dismembering its deceased and injured assailants.
‘Special medical unit of the organization proceeded to steal human organs for about 23 ISIS militants of those who slept in the hospitals of Nineveh,’ the source said.
A report by al-Monitor news website, citing an Iraqi ear, nose and throat doctor named Siruwan al-Mosuli, said the group started to engage in organ trafficking back in 2014.
He told the site that ISIS commanders have hired foreign doctors to run an extensive organ trafficking system from a hospital in the captured city of Mosul, northern Iraq, that is already beginning to generate huge profits.
It claims the terror organisation has even set up a specialist organ-smuggling division whose sole responsibility is to sell human hearts, livers and kidneys on the lucrative international black market.
‘[Al-Mosuli] said that lately he noticed unusual movement within medical facilities in Mosul Arab and foreign surgeons were hired, but prohibited from mixing with local doctors,’ the report’s author wrote. ‘Information then leaked about organ selling.’
The report went on: ‘Surgeries take place within a hospital and organs are quickly transported through networks specialized in trafficking human organs. Mosuli said that the organs come from fallen fighters who were quickly transported to the hospital, injured people who were abandoned or individuals who were kidnapped.’
Most of the organs are then smuggled out of Syria and Iraq into neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia or Turkey where criminal gangs sell them on to shady buyers across the globe, the Assyrian International News Agency reported.
DEC 15, 2015 Islamic State sanctioned organ harvesting in document taken in U.S. raid REUTERS
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Islamic State has sanctioned the harvesting of human organs in a previously undisclosed ruling by the group’s Islamic scholars, raising concerns that the violent extremist group may be trafficking in body parts.
The ruling, contained in a January 31, 2015 document reviewed by Reuters, says taking organs from a living captive to save a Muslim’s life, even if it is fatal for the captive, is permissible.
For a U.S. government translation of the document, click here
Reuters couldn’t independently confirm the authenticity of the document. U.S. officials say it was among a trove of data and other information obtained by U.S. special forces in a raid in eastern Syria in May.
“The apostate’s life and organs don’t have to be respected and may be taken with impunity,” says the document, which is in the form of a fatwa, or religious ruling, from the Islamic State’s Research and Fatwa Committee.
“Organs that end the captive’s life if removed: The removal of that type is also not prohibited,” Fatwa Number 68 says, according to a U.S. government translation.
The document does not offer any proof that Islamic State actually engages in organ harvesting or organ trafficking. But it does provide religious sanction for doing so under the group’s harsh interpretation of Islam – which is rejected by most Muslims. Previously, Iraq has accused Islamic State of harvesting human organs and trafficking them for profit.
The document does not define “apostate,” though the Islamic State has killed or imprisoned non-Muslims, such as Christians, and Shiite Muslims, as well as Sunni Muslims who don’t follow its extremist views.
JAN 4, 2016 ISIS Defector Reports on the Sale of Organs Harvested from ISIS-held ‘Slaves’ HUFFINGTON POST
In February of 2015, Iraqi Ambassador Mohamed Alhakim requested the UN Security Council to investigate the deaths of 12 doctors in Mosul, Iraq who he claimed had been killed by ISIS after refusing to remove organs from dead bodies. He also claimed that some of the bodies found were mutilated with opening in the back where the kidneys are located. “This is clearly something bigger than we think,” Ambassador Alhakim stated.
“Organ theft during wars, civil wars, dirty wars, wars involving undisciplined armies is not uncommon,” Nancy Scheper-Hughes, chair of Berkeley’s doctoral program in medical anthropology and director of Organs Watch, a California based documentation and research project told CNN in response to the February claim. She also told CNN that the market in human organs is brisk commenting that, “The demand for fresh organs and tissues … is insatiable.” Scheper-Hughes added fresh kidneys from “the brain dead or from those executed with the assistance of trained organ harvesters are the blood diamonds of illicit and criminal trafficking.”
U.S. State Department responded to the February 2015 claims with the following statement: “We also have no reason to doubt them given other similar atrocities that have been documented and other heinous crimes for which ISIL has proudly taken credit.”
APR 25, 2017 Meeting an organ trafficker who preys on Syrian refugees BBC NEWS
He used to work as a security guard in a pub but then he met a group which trades in organs. His job is to find people desperate enough to give up parts of their body for money, and the influx of refugees from Syria to Lebanon has created many opportunities.
“I do exploit people,” he says, though he points out that many could easily have died at home in Syria, and that giving up an organ is nothing by comparison to the horrors they have already experienced.
“They usually ask for kidneys, yet I can still find and facilitate other organs”, he says.
“They once asked for an eye, and I was able to acquire a client willing to sell his eye.
“I took a picture of the eye and sent it to the guys by Whatsapp for confirmation. I then delivered the client.”
JAN 8, 2018 ISRAELI SUSPECT IN KOSOVO ORGAN TRAFFICKING CASE ARRESTED IN CYPRUS JERUSALEM POST
An Israeli accused of involvement in a human organ trafficking scandal in Kosovo a decade ago has been arrested in Cyprus and the authorities in Pristina have requested his extradition to face trial, police said on Friday.
Police accuse Moshe Harel of seeking out people in need of kidney transplants and of luring donors to Kosovo from Turkey and the ex-Soviet Union with the promise of up to €12,000 ($14,500) in payment. Recipients, mainly Israelis, paid between €80,000 and €100,000 for the organs. Some donors never received any money.
FEB 22, 2017 Iranian High Ranking Official: Children are Kidnapped for Body Parts THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
Organized gangs are kidnapping Iranian citizens in order to take out their organs to sell them, the deputy chair of the judiciary committee of the Iranian parliament, Yahya Kamalipour, told journalists.
”Children, especially orphaned children are being identified and then kidnapped by criminals for their body parts” he confessed.
The existence and expansion of an underground human-organ market in Iran has been the subject of hundreds of reports by Iranian journalists and bloggers despite security forces warnings against publication of any report that portrays the Islamic Republic negatively. Iran’s deepening national health crisis seems to be causing an increasing demand for human organs such kidneys and liver. According to official Fardanews portal, Iran is experiencing a 15-20% surge in cases of kidney failure and only less than 20% of transplanted kidneys are from brain-dead patients which can indicate up to 80% share for underground organ market.