Organ trade kingpin arrested after 10 years

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Organ trade kingpin arrested after 10 years

The person responsible for 87 illegal organs transplant cases was arrested by the police, putting an end to eight years of hiding in China. During that time, South Korean patients were supplied organs from deceased Chinese, some of whom were victims of accidents or executed convicts.

The Busan Metropolitan Police reported Monday the suspect, identified by his surname Kim, was arrested and charged with brokering an illegal organs trade with his Chinese partners in China.

Kim, 43, arranged a total of 87 illegal organ transplant surgeries between June 2006 and February 2011 by opening an online community site, which he advertised as a community forum for patients in need of organs transplant. By luring potential clients who were ailing from illnesses such as chronic renal insufficiency and liver cancer to his online site, Kim was found to have brokered illegal transplant surgeries worth around 6 billion won ($5.3 million) in total.

Kim pocketed 600 million won, the police discovered.

The police said Kim led the illegal campaign by arraigning schedules and locations for surgeries. In most cases, organs came from Chinese convicts just executed on death row or Chinese people killed in accidents. Among the 87 cases, six involved organs from live donors. Details as to how the suspect kept in touch with his associates in China were not disclosed.

The police added Kim had stayed in China since 2008 as an illegal alien and avoided arrest. After eight years of living in self-imposed exile, Kim, possibly exhausted from years of laying low, contacted police in South Korea in June and expressed his intention to turn himself in. He was arrested upon his arrival last month at Gimpo International Airport. A police official involved in the case said the suspect exploited the high demand for organ transplants because of the small number of donors in Korea.

BY KANG SEONG-WOO [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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