(NaturalNews) Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, an Israeli citizen living in Brooklyn, NY, has pleaded guilty to illegally purchasing kidneys from desperate Israelis, and trafficking them back to the US for transplant in patients at prestigious, but unnamed, American hospitals. Rosenbaum has also reportedly pleaded guilty to conspiracy for illegally brokering kidney sales.
According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), desperate kidney patients collectively paid Rosenbaum $410,000 to purchase kidneys harvested from Israelis who had sold them for a mere fraction of this amount. Rosenbaum's lawyers claim that all the donors agreed to give up their kidneys, but a 1984 federal law prohibits knowingly purchasing or selling organs for transplant.
Rosenbaum allegedly bought the kidneys for as little as $10,000 each, and resold them for a minimum of $120,000 each. He then used the money to purchase property, which he has since agreed to forfeit following his guilty pleas.
According to Nancy Scheper-Hughes, an anthropologist and organ trade expert, Israel is a hotbed of illegal organ trafficking. Many of those who are willing to donate a kidney, which is one of the few organs that can be harvested from a live person, are very poor immigrants from Eastern European countries who are desperate for money.
Rosenbaum had reportedly been arrested several years ago as part of a massive organ trafficking sting. A US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent pretended to be businessman in order to nab Rosenbaum, as well as 46 others, many of whom were rabbis, for participating in illegal activity.
On October 27, Rosenbaum pleaded guilty in a New Jersey court to three counts of organ trafficking and one count of conspiracy. He faces up to 20 years in prison, and as much as a $250,000 fine. He could also be deported back to Israel.
"A black market in human organs is not only a grave threat to public health, it reserves lifesaving treatment for those who can best afford it at the expense of those who cannot," said New Jersey's US Attorney Paul Fishman about the case. "We will not tolerate such an affront to human dignity."
Most countries of the world currently have laws on the books prohibiting organ trafficking. But because organs are in extremely high demand, the black market for organs continues to thrive.