Bulgarian authorities say they have broken up an organized criminal group that recruited impoverished Bulgarians to sell their kidneys for transplants.
Special Prosecutor Dimitar Petrov said on September 13 that three men and a woman were charged with recruiting kidney donors and putting them in contact with transplant recipients.
Petrov said the transplants were carried out in a hospital in neighboring Turkey and that the donors were provided with forged documents showing the kidney donor and recipient were relatives.
Prosecutors said at least five people had received transplants under the criminal scheme since February 2019.
They said two more patients and three potential donors were waiting to undergo surgery when the criminal group was broken up.
Prosecutor Siyka Mileva said the kidney recipients had each paid between $55,000 and $111,000 for the transplants.
She said the donors received $5,500 to $7,700 after the surgery.
Most of the donors were unemployed people from poor communities who had large debts to pay off.