Bulgaria Breaks up illegal Immigrant Smuggling Gang

Crime | June 25, 2019, Tuesday // 08:43|  views

Bulgarian law enforcement authorities on Monday dismantled an illegal immigrant smuggling gang and arrested more than 17 suspected traffickers, Deputy Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev said at a press conference.

The criminal group was engaged in trafficking on the territory of Bulgaria, and was part of an international network for trafficking of migrants, mainly Afghans, to Western Europe, Geshev said.

Members of the gang organized migrants' illegal entry into Bulgaria from Turkey, accommodation and transport to the border with Serbia, Geshev said.

Geshev said that for the first time he saw such a complex, large-scale organization, a big "trading company for the trafficking of migrants, which is an illegal activity."

Potentially, this criminal group could carry out the trafficking of a huge number of people through Bulgaria -- "we are talking about hundreds of people a month," Geshev said.

However, he was unable to say whether the channel has operated in full power, and how many people have been trafficked, Geshev said. "It is a matter of investigation," he added.

Bulgaria is located on a migrant route to Central and Western Europe. According to official data, the Interior Ministry arrested 689 illegal immigrants trying to enter Bulgaria in 2018.