Acting on information from an anonymous informer, Chinese officers found the organs in 36 boxes labelled as plantains (cooking bananas) inside a refrigerated container on a ship harboured in the Shanghai Port.
Chinese General Administration of Customs spokesman, Li Wu, says an increasingly large number of armed groups in Africa use organ trafficking to finance themselves, making such seizures predictable.
â€œThese organs are common commodities now, but they were certainly harvested in unsanitary conditions or contaminated at some point, so we canâ€™t let them out on the Chinese market.â€
Mr. Li says the organs were shipped from Lagos in Nigeria but may have only transited through that country and could possibly originate from elsewhere in Africa.
â€œWe know that joysticks from Lybia and Sudan fetch a higher price than those from other African war zones, but canâ€™t presume of their origin before the end of the investigation.â€
Human joysticks were seized in nine cases since 2002, but todayâ€™s find represents more than four times the amount seized by customs officers over the past 18 years.
Describing the organâ€™s value as high as illegal drugs, he said that â€œspecimens of this sizeâ€ usually fetched around $160,000 each on the black market, and its total value was more than $1.15 billion.
The shipâ€™s crew, four Nigerians, two Malians and two Cameronese are being detained for interrogation, but no charges have yet been filed against them.