Five arrested in Spanish organ trafficking ring

March 14, 2014 at 1:25 PM

MADRID, March 14 (UPI) -- Police in Spain said they have arrested five people, including a wealthy Lebanese man, in connection with an illegal human organ trafficking ring.

Officials said the investigation, which is the country's first probe into a human organ trafficking ring, was opened when the leader of a charity that works with immigrants discovered via the Internet that the illicit company was seeking to convince impoverished immigrants to sell their organs or parts of organs, ThinkSpain reported Friday.

Investigators arrested two people who acted as agents between the patients and donors, who were reportedly paid up to about $55,600 for organs or partial organs, and the two owners of the company responsible for the billing process.

Police said they do not believe the group ever successfully had a transplant carried out.

Police also arrested a wealthy Lebanese man who allegedly worked with the group in an attempt to secure a liver transplant. He ended up receiving a partial liver donated by his own son, but he was arrested on allegations of collaborating with the trafficking ring when he returned to Spain for a checkup.

Authorities said all five suspects were later released, and three have been charged thus far. The investigation is ongoing.

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