Authorities in Great Britain have confirmed for the first time that a young girl was smuggled into the country specifically so her organs could be harvested and sold to wealthy recipients.
As reported by The Telegraph:
The unnamed girl was brought to the UK from Somalia with the intention of removing her organs and selling them on to those desperate for a transplant.
Child protection charities warned that the case was unlikely to be an isolated incident as traffickers were likely to have smuggled a group of children into the country.
Trafficking is increasing
The horrific case came to light via a government report that showed the number of human trafficking victims in the United Kingdom has risen more than 50 percent from last year, and has now reached record levels.
In all, 371 children were exploited in various ways, with the majority being used as slaves - for sex and otherwise.
The government's report said 95 children came from Vietnam, 67 from Nigeria and 25 from China. More children were smuggled in from Romania and Bangladesh, among other countries.
"The figures also detail how 20 British girls have been victims of human trafficking," the paper said. "It comes after a series of court cases in which British girls were raped and exploited by gangs of Asian men."
British child protection charities have warned that criminal gangs are trying to exploit the demand for organ transplants in the country.
"Traffickers are exploiting the demand for organs and the vulnerability of children. It's unlikely that a trafficker is going to take this risk and bring just one child into the UK. It is likely there was a group," said Bharti Patel, chief executive of ECPAT UK, a child protection charity.
The World Health Organization says up to 7,000 kidneys are obtained illicitly every year all around the world by traffickers.
And while a black market exists for other organs - hearts, lungs, livers - kidneys are the most sought-after, because one can be removed from a patient without them suffering many ill effects (unless, of course, later in life their one remaining kidney should become injured or fail).
Here's how it works, as reported by The Telegraph:
The process involves a number of people including the recruiter who identifies the victim, the person who arranges their transport, the medical professionals who perform the operation and the salesman who trades the organ.
All of which would require infrastructure - and lots of money.
Britain to stiffen penalties for slave traders and organ traffickers
The government's report also notes a rise in the number of adults trafficked to the UK; the number of women rose by 12 percent to 786 and the number of men by almost one-third to around 400. The latter figure includes growing numbers of British men who are being exploited for "paving or ground works" in the UK or abroad.
Details about the scope of the human trafficking phenomenon in Britain were published as the government in London announced plans to maximize prison sentences for modern-day slave traders.
"Under the proposals, offenders who already have a conviction for a serious sexual or violent offence will receive an automatic life sentence. The current maximum custodial sentence for trafficking is 14 years," the Telegraph reported.
Says James Brokenshire, crime and security minister: "Modern slavery is an appalling evil in our midst."
He added: "All this is a good start, but we need everyone to play a part - government, law enforcement, business, charities - if we are to consign slavery to the history books where it belongs."