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Bulgarian police bust baby trafficking ring

posted 28 Jan 2011, 05:23 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 28 Jan 2011, 05:25 ]

A coordinated Bulgarian-Greek police action apprehends alleged baby trafficking ring operating between the two countries.

VARNA, BULGARIA (JANUARY 25, 2011) POLICE HANDOUT - Bulgarian and Greek police have arrested 17 people for allegedly trafficking babies in both countries.

Five people were detained in Bulgaria, according to an anonymous expert from the "Human Trafficking" department of Sofia's police.

"The operation began at 07:30 a.m (local time) on January 25 in Bulgaria and Greece simultaneously and the results were five people arrested as planned in the Burgas, Varna and Yambol regions in Bulgaria, their homes searched and evidence collected," he said.

Prosecutors in Bulgaria and Greece will work together in pressing charges.

Nicknamed, "Operation Babies," the police action uncovered at least 14 cases in Greece and Bulgaria of mothers who had agreed to sell their newborns.

According to the police, the women, mostly from poor Roma neighbourhoods, were offered over 20,000 euros for a boy and 18,000 for a girl with the price varying depending on the colour of the child's skin.

The pregnant women were brought to Greece form Bulgaria and housed in special quarters leading up to the births. There is only a record of one woman actually being given any money and much less than was offered.

"It doesn't matter that most of the mothers gave their babies away willingly. They are victims of human trafficking and witnesses and no legal action will be taken against them in this criminal action," the police expert said.

Police were tipped off by a woman from Bulgaria who gave birth to a baby girl in Greece, the Bulgarian ministry said. She reportedly refused to leave the child, which was then taken from her by force, said the statement. Later she was taken to Greece in a coordinated police operation, where she pointed out the house, where babies and their mothers were living before and after the births. She and her baby are under police protection at the moment.