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From victim to accomplice: Indonesian man’s unsettling journey within an international organ trafficking syndicate

An international organ trafficking syndicate operating out of Cambodia has been exposed by Indonesian authorities.

The case involves an Indonesian man who transitioned from organ donor to operative within the syndicate.

The network, under investigation since 2019, reportedly earned around Rp 24.4 billion in illicit trade.

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INDONESIA: A shocking case of organ trafficking involving an international syndicate has been exposed by the authorities. Hanim (41), a man from Subang, West Java, who was once a victim of kidney selling, has now become a suspect in a trafficking operation involving kidney sales in Cambodia.

He is currently behind bars, and his confession sheds light on the beginnings of his involvement in the syndicate.

The ordeal began in 2018 when Hanim was facing severe financial difficulties. Desperate for a quick solution, he decided to sell his kidney after coming across information about kidney trading on a Facebook group.

Hanim reached out to the admin of the account through inbox messenger and was directed to a broker in Bojonggede, Bogor, West Java.

“I saw posts there about people needing kidney donors with specific blood types. A, B, AB, and O. After that, I messaged the account, got a response, and sent the requirements through Messenger. Then, I was asked to go to the broker’s place near Bojong Gede,” Hanim revealed to journalists at the Metro Jaya Regional Police on 21 July.

Initially, the kidney transplant was planned to take place in a hospital in Jakarta. However, the plan fell through due to several requirements, one of which was the approval of his family, which his wife did not agree with.

Subsequently, around July 2019, Hanim agreed to undergo the transplant in Cambodia through the broker. While waiting for the operation, he stayed at the broker’s house, telling his wife that he was working on a project.

“After I failed there, I waited at the broker’s house, pretending to talk to my wife about a work project. After waiting there for one year, around July 2019, I departed for Cambodia with the broker,” he continued.

After a year of waiting, Hanim finally travelled to Cambodia with the broker and two of his friends.

Once there, he was placed in a guesthouse and met a woman named Miss Huang, who organized the entire process before the kidney transplant.

Hanim underwent a thorough medical check-up at the Preah Ket Mealea Hospital, a military hospital in Cambodia, before the successful surgery.

Following the operation, Hanim stayed in Cambodia for over a week to recover before returning to Indonesia. He admitted to receiving a payment of Rp 120 million for donating his kidney.

“Then, I was introduced to the patient. I got a patient from Singapore, and my friend got a patient from Indonesia as well. The surgery was performed the next day, and after the operation, the recovery period lasted about ten days. Then, I returned to Indonesia and rested there for about one to two months,” Hanim continued.

A few months later, the broker contacted Hanim again, asking him to become a coordinator for the syndicate in Cambodia.

Hanim agreed and flew back to Cambodia, bringing four potential kidney donors in September 2019. However, two of them were sent back to Indonesia as they did not find suitable recipients.

“I was called again by that broker to become a coordinator in Cambodia, to take care of the donors in Cambodia,” said Hanim. ”

About three weeks later, after we returned to Indonesia, I arranged for another six people, including two who were already there, to depart. The process continued with sending them to Cambodia,” he said.

Regarding the process of obtaining kidney donors, Hanim claimed not to be familiar with the details as the brokers handled it while he was in Cambodia.

He stated that the brokers created Facebook groups, such as the “Forum Donor Ginjal Indonesia” and “Donor Ginjal Luar Negeri,” but did not make any public postings. Instead, they directly contacted potential donors via inbox messenger.

Hanim clarified that he was not involved in sending donors from Indonesia to Cambodia. His role was solely to coordinate the donors’ activities while they were in Cambodia.

Regarding the involvement of an immigration officer, Hanim stated that they provided around Rp 3.5 million to Rp 3.7 million (US$230 to US$250) every time to facilitate the departure of Indonesian donors to Cambodia.

To this immigration officer, they claimed that the departing Indonesian citizens were going to work as online gambling operators.

In reality, these individuals were victims who were about to sell their kidneys. “The immigration officers believed that we, the victims, were leaving to work in online gambling,” said Hanim.

Nevertheless, Hanim is unaware of how these immigration officers responded after learning that they were, in fact, part of an international kidney trafficking syndicate.

The police stated that the syndicate involved in the criminal act of human trafficking and kidney sales in Cambodia had been operating since 2019. It was revealed that the perpetrators earned revenue of around Rp 24.4 billion.

“The total revenue from organ sales is approximately Rp 24.4 billion (US$1.6 million),” said the Chief of General Criminal Investigation (Dirkrimum) of Metro Jaya Regional Police, Commissioner General (Kombes) Hengki Haryadi, during a press conference on Thursday (20 Jul).

Commissioner General Hengki Haryadi stated that there are currently 12 individuals who have been designated as suspects in the case of kidney sales to Cambodia. Sadly, it was discovered that the majority of these suspects were previously victims of organ trafficking themselves.

“In this operation, the joint team of Metro Jaya Regional Police has identified 12 suspects. Out of these 12 suspects, 10 are part of the syndicate, and 9 of them are former donors,” Hengki was quoted as saying by detikNews on Thursday (20 Jul).

The police are continuing their investigation into the case of human trafficking and kidney trading to Cambodia. They are currently pursuing the main perpetrator behind the syndicate.

“Regarding the disclosure of the organ trading case, the investigators of Metro Jaya Regional Police, along with Criminal Investigation Bureau (Bareskrim Polri), are still conducting a thorough investigation into the main perpetrators of organ trafficking,” said the Head of the Public Information Bureau (Karo Penmas) of the Public Relations Division (Humas) of the Indonesian National Police, Brigadier General (Brigjen) Ahmad Ramadhan, to journalists on Monday (24 Jul).

Hanim admitted to regretting his involvement in the kidney selling syndicate in Cambodia. He urged others to avoid such paths.

He hopes that similar cases will not occur in the future, emphasizing that there are better alternatives available to those in need. He claimed that he wanted to quit the syndicate since 2019.

“To be honest, the regret has been there since 2019; I wanted to stop,” said Hanim to reporters at the Metro Jaya Regional Police on Friday (22 Jul).

He hoped that similar cases would not happen again. He mentioned that there are better alternative jobs available. “I can’t give any message. In essence, to my other friends, if possible, if there’s a better path, it’s better not to end up like this,” he said.

The investigation is ongoing, and authorities are determined to dismantle the entire syndicate, bringing justice to all victims and holding the perpetrators accountable for their heinous crimes.

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