updated 8/5/2010 10:16:46 AM ET 2010-08-05T14:16:46

Ukraine's Interior Ministry says four surgeons and four others have been arrested for taking part in a scheme to recruit organ donors from former Soviet countries and transplant the organs into wealthy foreigners.

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The head of the ministry's department on human trafficking, Yuriy Kucher, says the scheme was headed by an Israeli citizen who was arrested last month.

Kucher said Thursday that recruiters sought mostly kidneys from people in Ukraine and other countries. Most of those who eventually donated organs were impoverished young women, paid up to $10,000.

Surgeries were performed in Kiev, Azerbaijan and Ecuador, he said. The surgeries cost up to $200,000 apiece.

All have been charged with human trafficking and face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

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