BEIJING – Chinese police have arrested 137 suspects in the latest crack down on human organ trafficking.

The operation was jointly conducted by 18 provincial police authorities in late July, who also rescued 127 organ suppliers, according to a statement from the Ministry of Public Security on Saturday.

Police said that the detained suspects illegally recruited suppliers over the Internet, facilitated the deals and made huge profits from the transactions.

Such activities endanger the health of the suppliers and place a heavy financial burden on the recipients, said the statement.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health show that about 1.5 million Chinese need organ transplants, but only around 10,000 transplants are performed annually due to a lack of donors.

The huge gap has led to a thriving illegal market for human organs, though the government has repeatedly pledged to improve its regulations on organ transplants and increase organ supply.