Bulgaria MPs Mull Stricter Penalties for People SmugglingDomestic | September 17, 2015, Thursday // 10:27| views
Photo by BGNES
Draft amendments to Bulgaria's Criminal Code have been put forward that will see the introduction of tough measures against people smugglers and their accomplices.
Changes that were tabled on Wednesday morning stipulate a sentence of up to 12 for smuggling activities (compared to 1-3 years presently) and a hefty fine of up to BGN 30 000 (EUR 15 000), three times up the current amount.
Some lawmakers are also proposing that special sanctions be introduced with regard to officials who aid smuggling activities.
Of the hundreds of thousands of migrants from the Middle East who have arrived to Southeast Europe over the past months, most are though to have paid up to thousands of USD to smugglers in order to reach European territory.
European police agency Europol's head on Wednesday warned that as many as 30 000 people could be engaged in trafficking gangs.
"The tragic incident in Austria is symptomatic of an explosion in the criminal problem we are seeing right now... Thousands of criminals (are) flocking to this spot, this mass movement of migrants and refugees," Reuters quotes Rob Wainwright as saying.
He added Europol had collected information on up to 30 000 people suspected of smuggling activity in 2015 alone.
Wainwright is referring to an accident in Austria where the lifeless bodies of 71 migrants were found in a truck near the border with Hungary. Bulgarian links were supposedly established in the incident, with several people being arrested.
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