Six people have been arrested in Pakistan on organ trafficking charges after local police said they found a missing teenager in an underground laboratory with one of his kidneys removed.
According to police reports cited by Agence France-Presse, the suspects tricked young, vulnerable people with promises of lucrative jobs, forcing them to remove organs, primarily kidneys, and sell them for about $4,000.
“It was only after we followed up on evidence and clues that we discovered that an organ-trafficking operation was behind the boy’s disappearance,” Rehan Anjum, a spokesman for the Punjab police, told AFP.
None of the doctors or surgeons linked to the organ harvesting scheme have been found, police told the French telegraph service.
The clandestine organ removal was done at a medical testing laboratory in Rawalpindi, near the Pakistani capital Islamabad.
These facilities usually lack adequate medical equipment and do not meet health standards, and patients sometimes die from complications related to the procedure.
“The boy told us that when he woke up there was an Arab lying next to him on a stretcher, so we believe most of the customers were foreigners,” Mr Anjum told AFP.
The father of the 14-year-old boy told the French newspaper that “I’m just thankful that the police found him alive, otherwise they would have left him dead.”
Pakistan banned the commercial trade in human organs in 2010, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.