A Lebanese citizen needing a transplant was arrested in Spain for trying to buy a liver from nine different immigrants.
The suspect offered prospective donors up to 40,000 euros ($55,000), police said Wednesday.
Along with the Lebanese man, the 61-year-old mayor of a town in the Middle Eastern country, authorities in the eastern region of Valencia arrested four other people who were helping him locate candidates for the transplant.
Authorities later released the five people, according to the Superior Court of Valencia, with three of them indicted for organ trafficking.
Authorities were alerted to the situation by an NGO that aids immigrants, national police director Ignacio Cosido said.
The NGO told police that a 28-year-old undocumented Algerian immigrant had confessed that the people who were arrested had offered her a significant amount of money in exchange for her liver.
Like her, at least eight other immigrants - six of them undocumented - were contacted by the Lebanese man.
The nine immigrants underwent testing at a private clinic, all of which was paid for by the Lebanese man, and one of the potential donors, a Romanian immigrant, was determined to be a good match.
The Lebanese man ultimately underwent a transplant operation in Spain thanks to a donation from his son, but information that came to light regarding the transplant and the fact that months before the Romanian citizen also had tried to donate his liver to the man led investigators to conclude that an attempt to arrange an illegal transplant had occurred. EFE