Bulgaria Accuses 5 Border Police of Taking Bribes from Migrant Smugglers

Bulgarian prosecutors said Tuesday they had charged five border police with being part of an organized crime group and accepting bribes from migrant smugglers at the country's southeastern border with Turkey.

The suspects, including three high-ranking officials, were arrested on Monday.

Authorities accuse the men of taking bribes in exchange for letting dozens of migrants cross the Elhovo checkpoint illegally from Turkey on their way to western Europe.

The officials also arrested groups led by competing traffickers who had failed to pay them money, according to prosecutors.

The officials are believed to have been running the bribery scheme since July 2015, when the number of migrants and refugees desperately trying to reach Europe noticeably increased.

"It remains to establish how many people managed to cross the border through this corruption scheme," the prosecution said.

EU member Bulgaria, which is not in the passport-free Schengen zone, has so far remained on the sidelines of the continent's worst migration crisis since World War II.

However, the country has recently seen increased pressure along its 275-kilometer (170-mile) border with Turkey, which allows the migrants to avoid the dangerous sea crossing from Turkey to the Greek islands.

Source: Agence France Presse

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