Alleged Kidney Kingpin Returned to India

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The doctor believed to be behind an international illegal kidney scam was returned to India Saturday, two days after his capture in Nepal.

Dr. Amit Kumar allegedly masterminded an organ racket in which possibly 600 kidneys were stolen or purchased from poor daily laborers and then transplanted into the bodies of wealthy Indians and foreigners.

"I have not duped anyone," Kumar told reporters in Nepal after his capture.

But when Nepal police questioned the doctor for 36 hours about the kidney racket, Dr. Kumar admitted that he was trying to buy a guesthouse in Nepal and had planned to shift his base from India to Kathmandu, according to NDTV.

Kumar was expected to be in court in Kathmandu on Sunday morning, but Nepal's minister for peace and reconstruction, Ram Chandra Paudel, announced late on Saturday afternoon that the doctor would be handed over to Indian authorities.

Kumar was flown to Delhi shortly thereafter, accompanied by India's Central Bureau of Investigation, which has now taken over the investigation. Upon arrival, Kumar was taken to CBI for interrogation. He is expected in court in Delhi on Sunday morning.

Kumar was found in a jungle resort in Sauraha, Nepal, about 40 miles from the Indian border. The doctor was apparently noticed by a receptionist after he clipped an article about himself from an Indian newspaper, local media reported.

He was found with the equivalent of $230,000 in cash and a check for $24,000, according to police.

On Friday, Kumar was brought from the resort to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, according to Interpol, which worked with Nepali authorities to make the arrest.

Kumar has been on the run for 14 years, most recently for what authorities say was a scam in which about 600 kidneys were forcibly taken or purchased from victims, then transplanted into the bodies of wealthy Indians or foreigners.

Indian authorities hope Kumar will be extradited soon, but Kumar will first be charged and tried in Nepal for violating the Foreign Currency Act by not declaring the cash he was carrying.

Police were also investigating whether he was involved in illegal kidney transplants in Nepal.

Only after Kumar is tried in Nepal would he be brought to India, said Majit Ahlawat, Gurgaon joint police commissioner.

Two weeks ago, Gurgaon police say they raided a home belonging to Kumar on the outskirts of Delhi, where they found a hidden state-of-the-art operating room in which many of the surgeries are said to have taken place. Five foreign tourists -- including two Americans -- waiting for kidneys were found in what police described as a "luxury guest house" owned by the doctor.

The Americans' passports were being held until they gave authorities more details about the illegal kidney racket. A waiting list of about 30 foreigners from at least five countries was also discovered, police said.

Police have been chasing Kumar -- also known as Dr. Santosh Raut -- since 1993, when he was accused of running an illegal kidney racket in Mumbai. The doctor had previously been arrested in Delhi in 2000 for involvement in the illegal trade of organs. Kumar does not have a license to perform surgery.

In this most recent alleged racket, Kumar allegedly worked with his brother, who is also wanted by authorities. A third doctor involved in the case is under arrest and is reportedly cooperating with authorities.

The alleged scam preyed upon laborers who congregate daily at a central gathering spot where men approach them with job opportunities, according to police. Police say that Kumar's men would find victims at these locations, offer them daily work, and then either forcibly steal or coerce them into selling their kidneys.

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