Israeli mastermind behind organ trafficking ring is arrested in Cyprus
Poor people from Eastern Europe, Russia, Central Asia and Turkey were paid thousands of euros for their kidneys. A prosecutor said they were left without proper medical care and were treated “like waste.
Police in Cyprus have arrested an Israeli man described as the ringleader of a world-wide organ trafficking network that operated out of the tiny Balkan country of Kosovo several years ago.
Moshe Harel is accused of luring donors from eastern Europe, Turkey and the former Soviet Union to Kosovo, promising to pay them 12,000 euros ($14,500) for a kidney. He then allegedly charged people (most of them Israelis) in need of a kidney as much as 100,000 euros for the implant.
Both Kosovo and Russia have issued warrants for Harel’s arrest. Kosovo has requested his extradition; it’s not clear if Russia has done likewise.
“Based on an international arrest warrant the suspect M.H. was arrested a few days ago in Cyprus,” said police spokesman Baki Kelani. “He has been a wanted person since 2010.”
Israeli police arrested Harel in 2012 in a related investigation but he was never extradited to Kosovo because the two countries don’t have diplomatic relations.
The trafficking ring operated out of the Medicus clinic — which has since been shut down —on a residential road on the outskirts of Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. The scandal came to light by accident in 2008 when a Turkish man collapsed at Pristina airport, visibly in pain after having his kidney removed.