SUWON, South Korea, Feb. 25 (Yonhap) -- A total of seven people have been arrested or booked in two separate incidents for their alleged involvement in illegal overseas organ transplants, police said Monday.
A suspect only identified by his surname Kim, is accused of taking 180 million won (US$165,600) as a brokerage fee from a liver transplant patient surnamed Seo and coordinating an illegal transplant in Tianjin, China for him, according to the Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency.
Kim allegedly pocketed a total of 600 million won after organizing three overseas transplants, they said.
Two others, including a suspect also surnamed Kim, have been arrested without physical detention for allegedly selling their organs to Kim, police said.
Kim allegedly lied to the patients, telling them that the organs had been harvested from executed Chinese death-row inmates, officers said, adding that organ trafficking is illegal in China as well.
In a separate incident, an Indian-national suspect, whose identity was withheld, allegedly recruited terminally-ill South Korean patients on the Internet and lured them to receive surgery in India, police said. He also targeted financially troubled South Koreans who wished to sell their organs.
The suspect then took both the sellers and the patients to a New Delhi hospital after falsifying documents to make them look like family members, officers said.
Each patient paid between 120 million and 200 million won to the Indian suspect, which included 30 million won for each organ, they said.
One of the patients, identified as his surname Park, suffered from complications after the illegal liver transplant in 2011, which prompted the investigation, police said.
High demand for organs and a chronic shortage of donations in South Korea has resulted in an increase in local patients resorting to illegal overseas surgeries, according to data released last year.
A total of 25 people were arrested in 2011 for their alleged involvement in overseas organ trafficking, a high jump from only three nabbed a year earlier, according to data from the National Police Agency.