Human kidneys were labeled as seafood when sent from Nanchang, capital of east China's Jiangxi Province, to Guangzhou, The Beijing News reported as it revealed details of a trade that led to 12 people being sent to prison last month.
The kidneys were stored in a refrigerated container before being flown south to the Guangdong Province capital. One of the gang, Mo Yongqing, said airport security were told it was frozen seafood, something he said that worked every time.
Mo, 32, was among those sentenced to between two years and nine and a half years in prison last month at Qingshanhu District People's Court in Nanchang.
The gang, which made more than 1.5 million yuan (US$243,600) between October 2011 and February 2012, recruited nearly 40 potential "donors" online with 23 of them having a kidney removed.
One donor, a 21-year-old from Anhui Province, told the newspaper he wanted to earn some money to show his father he could live on his own.
He saw an advertisement online and went to Nanchang in October 2011.
Before the transplant, he stayed in a motel under guard and was taken to two hospitals to see if he was a match with patients needing a transplant.
About three weeks later, he was blindfolded and taken to a hospital to have a kidney removed. He was paid 25,000 yuan.
Most of the donors were in their 20s and 30s and paid between 22,000 and 25,000 yuan, the newspaper said.
Another man, a 27-year-old, said he sold a kidney to pay gambling debts. He was taken from Guangzhou to Nanchang in November 2011 to have it removed.
The gang paid the private Nanchang Huazhong Hospital 35,000 yuan for the hire of a room for each operation, the newspaper said.
The hospital has since been closed down.
Jiang Zhenglin, a doctor, earned 10,000 yuan for each operation. Nurses "borrowed" from other hospitals were paid up to 4,000 yuan.
The newspaper said many of the gang members had previously sold organs or had been transplant patients and took part because of the money to be made.
Gang leader Chen Feng, chairman of the Guangzhou Mengjiadi Trading Co, told police he knew many transplant doctors in Guangzhou because the company sold medicines.
He had begun a search for kidney donors after Zhu Yunsong, a doctor at Guangzhou Military Area General Hospital, told him there was a shortage.
Chen made contact with Zuo Handong, who at first said he could get kidneys from brain-dead patients in a Jiangxi hospital. But the trade soon began to involve live donors.
Chen sent Mo to bring the kidneys back and sold them to Zhu. Chen was paid 120,000 yuan for each kidney. He took 10,000 yuan and distributed the rest to other members of the gang.