South Asia

Bangladesh 'kidney trafficking ring' uncovered

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Police in Bangladesh say they have uncovered an organ trafficking ring responsible for persuading at least 40 people to sell their kidneys.

Three ring members have been arrested in the country's north, police say.

The gang allegedly targeted poor families in the remote Kalai area and told them they needed only one kidney to live normally.

Poverty in the country's rural areas makes the offer of cash for organs hard to resist, correspondents say.

The three people being held were arrested on Sunday in Kalai - north-west of Dhaka - after reports surfaced that villagers were having their organs removed illegally.

"We have found that scores of poor villagers have sold their kidneys for 150,000 to 200,000 taka [$2,000 to $3,000; £1,200 to £1,800]," local district police chief Fazlul Karim told the AFP news agency.

"Some 38 villagers from five villages in the area have sold their kidneys for cash - but this is just the tip of the iceberg. We believe there could be up to 200 victims."

About five other people had entered into agreements to sell but had not yet had the operation, police say.

The police inquiry has now been extended to Dhaka because investigators suspect the organ trafficking gang could include doctors, nurses and businessmen working in the capital.

"The three people we arrested are only low-level operators," said Mr Karim. "Two of them had even sold their kidneys and then become part of the gang.

"It is only natural to assume medical professionals are involved."

Mr Karim added that the organs were likely to be used by patients in Singapore and India. He said that some of the affected villagers had become ill after their operations.

While it is legal in Bangladesh to donate an organ to a family member, selling and dealing in organs is illegal.

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