HomeNewsBriefOrgan Theft Investigation Casts Doubt Over Recent LatAm Scandals
BRIEF

Organ Theft Investigation Casts Doubt Over Recent LatAm Scandals

COSTA RICA / 7 MAY 2014 BY CHARLES PARKINSON EN

An investigation into organ trafficking has seen experts refute the feasibility of organ theft, though this does not discount the possibility of Latin American organized crime's involvement in trafficking.

According to the report from BBC Mundo, while illegal organ trafficking is an undeniable reality across the globe, the concept of criminals kidnapping people to harvest their organs is extremely unlikely.

Speaking to the BBC, Alicia Elena Perez, a Mexican investigator specializing in organ trafficking, said she had never come across a confirmed case or consulted a transplant surgeon who thought it even possible. According to Perez, previous reports were nothing but "media scandals" that could not be verified.

However, the report did state that Costa Rica had become a "host country for transplant tourism" facilitated by a network of travel agencies, hotels and health professionals.

According to the investigation, kidneys represent up to 75 percent of the organs illegally trafficked worldwide, with between 15,000 and 20,000 illegally transplanted each year.

InSight Crime Analysis

The steadfast rejection of the possibility of organ theft from professionals consulted appears to pour cold water on some of the gory tales that have emerged out of Latin America in recent years.

In March, Mexican criminal group the Knights Templar was accused of diversifying into organ trafficking, with lurid details emerging in the international press of both adults and children being kidnapped to have their body parts removed for black market resale.

Meanwhile, in mid-2013 an investigation into stolen babies and illegal adoption in Guatemala involved claims that some were having their organs removed.

Yet, while organ theft might be extremely difficult logistically, the possibility of organized crime profiting from trafficking remains real. As a 2013 organ trafficking investigation in Costa Rica demonstrated, the trade is transnational, highly lucrative and run by extensive networks. So even if conventional criminal groups are not involved, the trade demands a significant degree of criminal organization.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Costa Rica

What's more, as has been demonstrated by a high profile case in Eastern Europe, those involved in illegal organ trafficking can be the same networks responsible for trafficking the likes of drugs and arms.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 13 APR 2020

Women’s participation in organized crime groups is not uniform. The diverse roles that women play in criminal economies allow us…

BARRIO 18 / 5 MAY 2017

A recently published video appears to show the head of Guatemala's penitentiary system negotiating with gang leaders in a maximum-security…

GUATEMALA / 12 NOV 2015

A new report details a series of recommendations meant to reduce impunity and insecurity in Guatemala over the next decade.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.