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Nine suspected members of an illegal organ-smuggling ring had their remands extended by the Nazareth Magistrate's Court on Monday morning.
Police were tipped off about the ring by a northern resident in her 30s who claimed that she had been operated on in the Ukraine but had not received the full payment promised her for her kidney.
Following that complaint, the Amakim District Central Investigative Unit (ADCIU) began to explore intelligence leads, and unearthed a number of possible cases in which the same group of people was involved.
During the investigation, police employed an undercover agent who responded to a newspaper advertisement and established contact with the criminal network.
The undercover officer went through all of the screening procedures and medical checks for an organ donation, and a flight to the Ukraine to remove the kidney had already been scheduled by the traders. Police emphasized Monday morning that the investigation was still in its initial stages and that they were investigating a number of possible incidents.
After enough evidence to justify arrest had been compiled, police rounded up suspected members of the network on Sunday, around the time that the agent was supposed to depart from Ben-Gurion International Airport.
The arrests were made both at the airport and at additional locations throughout the country. All of the suspects are Israeli residents.
Nazareth Magistrate's Court Judge George Azulai extended the remands of five of the suspects - Allen John, 58; Hasan Zhalke, 38; Ella Ziss, 54, Boris Wolfman, 24, and Igor Tatarchuk, 59 - until July 31. The remands of four other suspects - Manal Jat, 30; Margarita Markov, 34, Hani Hadarawi, 30 and a 17-year-old juvenile had their remands extended by two days.
A 10th suspect was also arrested, but was released on Monday.