PHNOM PENH (AFP) - Two Cambodians have been arrested for allegedly trafficking at least ten organ donors to India for illegal kidney transplants worth tens of thousands of dollars, police said Friday (May 26).
The two Phnom Penh residents - a man and a woman - were arrested on Wednesday for at least ten cases of "kidney trafficking" over the past year, said Keo Thea, the city's chief of anti-human trafficking police.
The suspects paid Cambodian donors US$5,800 for their kidneys and then charged patients more than US$40,000 for the transplants, he said.
"The kidney transplants were performed in India," said Keo Thea, adding that the patients were also Cambodian.
He said the suspects confessed to the crime and would be sent to court later on Friday.
Trafficking is a widespread problem in impoverished Cambodia and police routinely investigate cases linked to the sex trade, forced marriage or slavery.
But organ trafficking - a trade more common in places like India and Nepal - is rarer.
The complicity of donors, who are often compelled by poverty, makes the under-reported crime difficult to expose.
In 2015 three Cambodians were sentenced to between 10 and 15 years jail in the country's first kidney trafficking case.
They had persuaded poor Cambodians to sell their organs to wealthy compatriots undergoing dialysis in Thailand.
Globally, the billion-dollar organ black market is fuelled by a shortage of organs and a soaring number of sick patients waiting for transplants, especially kidneys.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) some 10,000 black market transplants are carried out every year, a problem that frequently involves international crime.