Three men and one woman in Vietnam have been charged over the trafficking of people to China to sell their kidneys.
State-run Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper said the three male suspects had also sold their own kidneys in China.
The four are charged with “organising other people to flee the country”. They face 12 years in prison.
The suspects are accused of illegally moving 19 Vietnamese into China with the purpose of selling their kidneys from 2009 until the ring was uncovered in February.
It said each kidney was being sold for between 40 million dong (£1,170) and 50 million dong (£1,463).
More from Global Times: Four men stand trial in human kidney trafficking ring
Four men stood trial Tuesday for the trafficking and sales of human kidneys involving a total 1.18 million yuan ($273,139) at Chaoyang district court.
The four accused sold kidneys to nine patients within one year.
The mastermind, He Linxuan, 26, from Zhejiang Province, attempted to sell his kidney in 2008 but failed the medical exam. The experience led He to seek out kidney donors as a business, ultimately setting up his reputation among patients after successfully finding three kidneys in one month.
The three kidney donors later joined He voluntarily after their transplant surgeries.
Clients pay around 120,000 yuan for a kidney, according to He, who profits at least 20,000 yuan each per transaction, the Legal Mirror reported.
The ring was broken up after an accident in July 2009, when a man named Liu Jun (pseudonym) contacted He to sell his kidney. But after Liu’s wife found the scars left by the surgery, she called police.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” said He at court Tuesday, “Since I’ve saved lives by selling kidneys, I didn’t harm society at all,” he said. The other three confessed to their involvement.
The court has yet to issue a verdict, Yi Lin, an employee with the media department of the Chaoyang District Court, told the Global Times Tuesday.