NEWS

Police smash illegal adoption ring

Officers of the Greek and Bulgarian police forces have arrested 12 suspected members of a cross-border illegal adoption ring following parallel raids in the two countries, it emerged on Tuesday.

Of the suspects, seven were in arrested Greece and five in Bulgaria. Some are lawyers, doctors and notaries. Others are teenage women from Bulgaria?s Roma community who are believed to have given birth to 17 infants sold to childless couples for illegal adoption for between 20,000 and 25,000 euros, police said.

According to sources, the ring used as its base the central town of Lamia, where its suspected mastermind, a Bulgarian national, is believed to have been living for the past year and a half. Another key suspect is a female lawyer who practices in Athens but is of Bulgarian origin.

The investigation was launched four months ago under the aegis of Eurojust, the European Union agency dealing with judicial cooperation, after police determined that several young Bulgarian women had been visiting Greek hospitals to bear children before being immediately discharged.