The Israeli ringleader of a global gang of organ traffickers authorities have been trying to hunt down for the past 10 years has finally been arrested in Cyprus.
Moshe Harel is the suspected mastermind behind dozens of illegal kidney transplants at the Medicus clinic in Kosovo’s capital Pristina in 2008. Local media confirm he’s the one in authorities’ custody now.
Pristina, Kosovan police spokesman Baki Kelani said Saturday: “The suspect whose initials are MH has arrested a few days ago in Cyprus following an international arrest warrant.”
Authorities have been looking for Harel for almost a decade. He is infamous for exploiting poor victims in depressed areas in Eastern Europe and Central Asia by promising 15,000 euros or $18,000 for their organs.
The recipients, mostly Israelis, would pay as high as 100,000 euros for the transplant.
The organ trafficking was discovered in 2008 after a Turkish man collapsed at Pristina airport after his kidney was removed.
Authorities then raided the Medicus clinic. It shut down after the scandalous discovery of its illegal operations.
An EU-led court in Kosovo sentenced five Kosovan doctors in 2013 to up to eight years in prison for organ trafficking in the country. Prosecutors said in the trial that donors have their organs illegally removed. Worse, they were not given proper medical care and were treated “like waste.”
The Supreme Court of Kosovo, however, annulled the verdict in 2016 and ordered a new trial which is still ongoing.
The indictment named Harel as the mastermind of the trafficking network. Turkish doctor Yusuf Ercin Sonmez labeled by Kosovo media as the “Turkish Frankenstein” and still on the run was suspected of performing the transplants at the clinic.