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

GUATEMALA / 10 AUG 2022

Authorities in Guatemala have dismantled several human trafficking networks in a series of coordinated operations, shedding light on…

COSTA RICA / 13 SEP 2021

In Costa Rica, the seizure of narco-assets presents more of an obstacle than a gift to authorities.

ELITES AND CRIME / 30 SEP 2022

Outgoing governor of Tamaulipas, Francisco Javier García Cabeza de Vaca, is about to lose immunity from an arrest warrant.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…