Bulgaria’s corrupt Border Police: Authorities arrest officers at Kulata crossing

Written by on June 14, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Bulgaria’s corrupt Border Police: Authorities arrest officers at Kulata crossing

Update 12:36 p.m..: According to Mladen Marinov, Secretary of the Interior, Customs Agency officers were arrested, rather than Border Police officers. The Kulata border crossing was still closed at around noon and will be reopened “at some time on Wednesday”.

Is the entire Bulgarian Border Police corrupt? Probably not, but the question is definitely legitimate, since countless corruption schemes at many border crossings have triggered just as many investigations and arrests. This time it hit the Kulata border crossing in the South-West of Bulgaria.

An operation by SANS, the State Agency for National Security, which basically is the Bulgarian equivalent of the American F.B.I., and CDCOC, the Chief Directorate for Combating Organized Crime, unearthed a scheme maintained by many Border Police officers, in which bribes were demanded from truck drivers crossing that border checkpoint.

Up to 22 Border Police officers were reportedly arrested in the evening, an entire shift. According to the authorities, even more arrests were possible. SANS also searched places, including private homes, in Sandanski, Petrich, Blagoevgrad and Kyustendil.

As a result, the Kulata border crossing was closed. According to Bulgarian National Television (BNT), huge queues of trucks, buses and cars developed, as a result of the anti-corruption operation. The Border Police (the part which was not arrested) advised travellers to use other border crossings, such as Makaza, Zlatograd, Ivaylovgrad or Captain Petko Voyvoda.

Arrests of Border Police officers because of alleged corruption schemes happen very frequently in Bulgaria, and they have for many years. While the Border Police has this huge corruption problem, Bulgaria keeps on insisting it was ready to join the Schengen area.

Photo: BNT

Related article: Looking Back at 2016 in Bulgaria: Border Police Scandals Galore

 

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com