A group of five Bulgarian Border Police staff have been arrested in a special operation over allegations they accepted bribes to help traffickers smuggling foreign nationals from Turkey to Western Europe, Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry said on February 9.
The five, from the Svilengrad office of the Border Police, were detained in a special operation on February 8 led by the Special Prosecutor’s Office.
Three of the five held senior positions at the Border Police office, the ministry said.
The statement said that according to evidence collected so far, the group had been working with various traffickers at least since July 2015.
The group allegedly not only accepted bribes to help get migrants across the border illegally but also to act against competitor people-traffickers by detaining groups of migrants that they led, the Interior Ministry statement said.
An investigation is underway which will seek to establish how many groups were let through the border in this way, what sums of money were received and among whom it was divided.
One of the participants is charged with accepting a $5000 bribe to allow a group of 30 migrants to cross the border illegally. He is being held in 72-hour detention on the order of the Special Prosecutor’s Office.
The other four, who will face bribery charges, will be the subject of a request to a court to remand them in custody or award them bail pending trial.