Bulgaria charges 92 suspects accused of smuggling migrants

Bulgaria charges 92 suspects accused of smuggling migrants.
Bulgaria charges 92 suspects accused of smuggling migrants. Photo by Europol

An operation by Bulgarian authorities supported by Europol resulted in changing 92 suspects for smuggling migrants from Turkey, via Bulgaria, to Serbia and then into western Europe

Authorities in Bulgaria have charged 92 suspects during a large-scale action day against organised crime groups involved in migrant smuggling.  

The operation was supported by Europol and was coordinated by the Bulgarian Public Prosecutor along with the General Directorate for Combating Organised Crime, the National Police, and the Border Police.

As per a statement by Europol on Tuesday, January 17, criminal networks active along the Balkan route were targeted.  

“The joint actions took place across Bulgaria and focused on a number of networks smuggling migrants from Türkiye, via Bulgaria, to Serbia and then Western Europe”, said a statement by Europol.  

The main organisers of the networks active along this route are reported to be based in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Türkiye.  

Europol said that they have created their own national networks of members responsible for the transport and accommodation in their respective countries.  

The main modes of transportation used by the smugglers were vans, campers, and buses.  

“The prices for the full smuggling service in larger groups varied between EUR 2 000 and 3 000 per person”, said Europol.  

The European law enforcement agency also said that If the migrants were smuggled in a smaller group of 5-6 people, the amount paid would be as high as €10, 000.  

“Payments for the full trip would be made after the main organiser from Türkiye had confirmed that the migrants had reached the Bulgarian-Serbian border”, the statement added.  

Bulgarian authorities have reported an increase in migrant smuggling activities on their southern border. 

In 2022, three police officials including one from the Bulgarian Border police were killed due to instances related to migrants being transported.  

Authorities in the country now suggest that there has been an increase of both the smuggling activities and the violence of the involved criminal networks. 

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