Twelve suspects involved in illegal human organ trade were sentenced to prison terms of up to nine and a half years on Friday in Jiangxi province, Xinhua reports.
Chen Feng, head of the criminal gang, started the organ trade operation in May 2011 with Jiang Zhenglin. Chen and others were responsible for looking for suppliers and buyers while Jiang, a doctor by profession, was in charge of performing medical operations.
They claimed online to pay more than 100,000 yuan (16,000 U.S. dollars) per kidney. Among nearly 40 potential “suppliers” they had recruited, 23 had one of their kidneys removed for illegal transplants.
However, the victims did not get paid the amount promised. The gang led by Chen made illegal profits of more than 1.5 million yuan (over 247,800 U.S. dollars) from October 2011 to February 2012.
Organ transplant schemes are rampant in China, where demand for organs still greatly outstrips supply. Roughly 10,000 people on a 1.5 million-person waiting list receive transplants each year.
Only 169 hospitals in china are qualified for organ transplantation and strict regulations surround the process.