Schar School Professors Begin Research to Combat Organ Trafficking in Costa Rica

By Buzz McClain

Schar School professors Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, left, and Naoru Koizumi, right, participated in a march organized by the National Commission Against Migrant Smuggling and Human Trafficking with Costa Rica vice president Epsy Campbell Barr, center, while researching organ trafficking. Photo by Juan Carlos Morales Quirós, CONATT

A delegation of Schar School of Policy and Government professors began a collaboration with Costa Rican government officials in November to research that country’s growing transnational network of organ trafficking.

Associate professor and director of research Naoru Koizumi and associate professor Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera met with top Costa Rican officials for five days to better understand a dangerous problem that was only exposed in 2013 after confirmation of at least 15 illicit transplants. 

“It involved Costa Rican donors and physicians, Israeli and European buyers and patients, a Greek broker, and a Ukrainian crime network,” Koizumi said of the complex problem. “The government is very committed to combat organ trafficking and we were able to have a series of interviews and meetings with the litigators and government officials who worked on this case.”

“Our main aim was to create synergies between academia, government, and law enforcement and contribute to dismantling criminal networks that put human lives of very vulnerable people under threat,” said Correa-Cabrera. “This study will combine sophisticated scientific methods, field research, and network analysis to understand how migrant smuggling, human trafficking, and other illicit activities are connected with organ sales.”

This National Science Foundation-funded project involves two study sites, Costa Rica and Bangladesh. Koizumi and her graduate research assistant, Abu Abu Bakkar Siddique, will travel to Bangladesh in late January to investigate a large-scale organ trafficking case in Karai.