30 Bulgarian Customs Officers Caught Red-handed with BribesCrime | May 3, 2012, Thursday // 10:27| views
A large number of Customs officers at the Capitan Andreevo checkpoint on the Bulgarian-Turkish border have been exposed for racket and contraband. File photo
A special operation, codenamed "Customs" has been conducted Wednesday evening at the Capitan Andreevo checkpoint on the Bulgarian-Turkish border.
The operation, carried out by the Main Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime, GDBOP, the Internal Security Department of the Interior Ministry, and the Sofia City Prosecutor's Office, aimed at countering racketeering of people and companies passing through the checkpoint.
The Sofia City Prosecutor, Nikolay Kokinov, told the largest private TV channel bTV Thursday morning that about 30 Customs officers have been busted during the operation.
The authorities caught the officers red-handed around 7:30 pm, which was the end of the shift when they usually distributed the money taken from bribes during the day. The police found a large amount of different currencies on a table inside the checkpoint while two Customs supervisors have been distributing the employees' shares. All who had been on duty Wednesday are being investigated to establish their involvement in the racket practices.
Kokinov informed that the authorities acted on inside information and that Special Surveillance Devices, SRS, have been used during the probe, but declined offering more detail. The Customs officers did not have a set "price list" for the bribes, but asked for money according to the load – usually to close their eyes for the smuggling of different items.
During the bust, the Customs employees told the authorities that they had found the large amount of money inside a restroom at the checkpoint, a claim that Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, labeled "quite strange." The Minister further revealed that the raid of two residencies of Customs officers had resulted in the bust of a large number of contraband cigarettes.
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