A central suspect in a network that trafficked Israelis abroad to donate organs was arrested by investigators on Wednesday morning, nearly a year after police finished their investigation of a number of alleged co-conspirators.
The suspect, 39-year-old Albert Mordichayev of Ashdod, faces charges of aggravated fraud, aggravated forgery, human trafficking for the purpose of organ removal, conspiracy and tax violations.
Mordichayev is not considered to be the ring leader of the network, but that he nonetheless played a central role in the conspiracy, police said. In court on Wednesday, police referred to him as the “right-hand man” of the central suspect, saying that he forged documents to present to authorities in Eastern Europe and in other parts of the world where the surgeries were performed.
The main suspect in the case has been a fugitive for the past few years. Police said that they expect the case to only expand in the coming days and weeks.
Mordichayev’s arrest follows a case that broke earlier this month involving a Beersheba man Negev police said promised Israeli women aged 18 to 20 tens of thousands of dollars to travel to Turkey to undergo transplant surgery. A number of women agreed to undergo the operation while others backed out at the last minute, including one woman who had already arrived in Turkey when her family pleaded with her on the phone, managing to convince her to back out of the surgery.
People questioned so far in the case also include a woman who underwent the surgery, another woman who paid NIS 300,000 to a Turkish hospital for a kidney, and three women who either donated kidneys or were in the process of doing so.