Taiwan nabs 3 for ‘organ harvesting’ in Cambodia

Trafficked Indians, Malays and Chinese rescued from Casino, Vietnamese repatriated

In this file photo, surgeons perform a transplant of a heart from a genetically modified pig, a first-of-its-kind procedure, on a patient in Baltimore, Maryland, on January 7, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. Authorities in Taiwan have three suspected members of an 'organ harvesting ring ' which lured victims known as 'Piglet' to Cambodia

In this file photo, surgeons perform a transplant of a heart from a genetically modified pig, a first-of-its-kind procedure, on a patient in Baltimore, Maryland, on January 7, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. Authorities in Taiwan have three suspected members of an ‘organ harvesting ring ‘ which lured victims known as ‘Piglet’ to Cambodia.

Published: October 20, 2022 07:36 GMT

Updated: October 20, 2022 08:08 GMT

Authorities in Taiwan have arrested three people in connection with an “organ harvesting” ring that lured victims with false promises of high-paying jobs in Cambodia, where they were told regular health checks were mandatory and they would be subjected to X-rays.

After the X-ray, the victims – dubbed “piglets” – had their organs such as kidneys and liver removed “under the guise of supposedly mandatory disease prevention,” Taiwan News reported. The organs were then sold.

It said three people named Lin, Tsai and Hsieh were charged with violating the Human Trafficking Prevention Law on Oct. 19 and have filed a petition with the Taoyuan District Court. The three had formed a “snakehead gang” responsible for international human trafficking.

Ucan shop
Ucan shop

According to the report, Lin was responsible for finding organ buyers, Tsai and another man under investigation “were responsible for managing the departure of the ‘piglets’ from Taiwan,” while Hsieh was tasked with finding victims.

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Charges came after Taoyuan prosecutors investigating a Cambodia-linked fraud case found a mobile phone belonging to Lin describing a victim who had been tricked into traveling to the country to have her organs harvested.

The report, translated from Chinese into English, said Lin could use terms like “complete disassembly,” meaning the heart, liver, kidney, and cornea could be removed.

“These stories are all made up”

Widely dismissed as fake, videos of organ harvesting circulated online as Cambodian authorities continued to crack down on Chinese criminal syndicates accused of luring here thousands of Asians who were forced to work on a series of fraudulent telecoms scams.

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Cambodia is sensitive to criticism, especially in the run-up to the ASEAN and East Asian leaders’ summit to be held here in November, the Southeast Asian Games in May and national elections in July next year, when international scrutiny of that country will intensify is expected.

Last month, the Cambodian government denied allegations of organ harvesting and the sale of body parts for transplants on the black market, amid a massive human trafficking wave that surfaced earlier this year.

The allegations were made in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but Chou Bun Eng, permanent vice chairman of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking, dismissed them, saying, “These stories are all fabricated.”

Cambodian media has been inundated with reports of human trafficking since March, with thousands of people fleeing “slavery facilities” and other businesses such as casinos after being forced to work under threats of torture, including beatings and electric shocks.

Two days ago, authorities said 75 victims believed to have been trafficked from China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam were rescued from a casino in western Oddar Meanchey province.

“Cambodia is abused as a place for cross-border crimes”

This comes after another 226 Vietnamese were repatriated at the border after being rescued in an operation in late September in the southern port city of Sihanoukville, which has emerged as an epicenter for human traffickers.

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Interior Minister Sar Kheng said the government must continue to support both Cambodians and foreigners affected by human trafficking, while calling for further crackdowns on all crimes, including drug trafficking and illegal online gambling.

“I stress that Cambodia is misused as a place for transnational crimes,” he said at the inauguration of a state-of-the-art firearms training facility for police on October 19, adding that these crimes were committed by international syndicates and not Cambodians.

In July, the United States downgraded Cambodia to Tier 3, the lowest rank on its Human Trafficking Index, for failing to meet “minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking.”

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