Eight Bulgarian Roma were arrested in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on 18th of June and accused by a prosecutor of exploiting their children and endangering them, Kathimerini’s online edition reported.
According to the accusations, they forced the children to beg on the streets of Thessaloniki, look for food in the garbage and used their profits to gamble in a casino in Bulgaria. The arrests came after a four-month investigation by the city’s organized crime unit.
The case involves the exploitation of eight children under the age of 11.
Earlier this year, a group for human trafficking from Bulgaria to France was broken up.
The specialized prosecutor’s office monitored pre-trial proceedings against a criminal association operating in Bulgaria and abroad. The purpose of the association, in addition to self-interest, is to coordinate the commission of crimes in the country – under Article 159b of the Penal Code, which provides for imprisonment for more than three years, according to the prosecutor’s office (prb.bg).
In the course of the investigation, the Ministry of Interior – Directorate for International Cooperation, received information that the authorities in France have in the meantime established the existence of an illegal settlement with about 150 inhabitants, self-accommodated in temporary buildings in the area of the stadium “Municipal” in Toulouse. They were engaged in begging.
In the framework of international cooperation, the Bulgarian authorities have been informed that an organized criminal group has been established in Paris, dealing with trafficking of Bulgarian citizens to France for the purpose of begging, which will take place in the city of Toulouse. In this regard, the French police detained ten Bulgarian citizens on suspicion of organizing and exploiting other Bulgarians who, after coercion, begged on the streets of Toulouse.
More than 30 Bulgarian citizens residing on the territory of France, who have become victims of the criminal group, have been identified in the case. Most of them were people with physical disabilities, and their recruitment was carried out on the territory of Bulgaria. The victims are mostly from villages in the municipalities of Dolni Dabnik and Iskar, Northern Bulgaria.
In the case of the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office, evidence was also collected for committed secondary crimes – recruitment and transportation of individuals in order to be used for sexual exploitation.
From the evidence gathered in the case conducted in France, it is established the complicity of five persons – Bulgarian citizens, to whom in the investigation of the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office there was evidence of their participation in an organized criminal group engaged in trafficking and exploitation of persons for begging. Bulgaria for France in the period from 2015 to the present. In the conditions of art. 479 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the pre-trial proceedings were transferred to France, where the persons were convicted by the court in Toulouse.