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Medical chief at Costa Rica state hospital arrested as part of organ trafficking investigation

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A chief doctor at a Costa Rican government-ran hospital was arrested today on suspicion of being part of an international organ trafficking network which specializes in selling kidneys to patients in Israel, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Attorney General Jorge Chavarria told the press that the arrested is Francisco Mora Palma, head of Nephrology at Calderon Guardia Hospital, one of the largest state medical centers in the country.

“The patients who required the transplants were in Israeli territory, and some of the (trafficking) victims [had their kidney removed] here and others were transported to Israel. We have information that at least one person died after being operated on in Israel,” Chavarria said.

The prosecutor explained that the organization has branches in Israel and Eastern Europe, though did not elaborate, citing the ongoing investigation.

Authorities have identified at least three Costa Ricans who were paid in exchange for one of their kidneys.

In addition to Mora Palma, authorities have arrested a police officer identified by the last names Cordero Solano, who collaborated with the doctor to identify possible donors.

Besides the Calderon Guardia Hospital, authorities raided other locations, including two private clinics where transplants were conducted.

“This is extremely serious,” the prosecutor said, urging those who were trafficking victims to come forward to authorities without fear of losing the money they were paid. “What we need is information to dismantle this organization,” he said.

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