Importing people for exploitation

Gangs from the Balkans exploit many of the beggars that throng city centers in Greece, notably young children and people with disabilities, who beg in busy areas or «sell» tissues. Police say that many of the beggars know what they will be doing, though some expect real jobs, but stay on because they don’t want to return home. «These are petty gangs which bring people from their areas, often fellow villagers and relatives. In 80 percent of cases, the ‘bosses’ exploiting beggars are family or from the same neighborhood,» said a police source. Their victims live in wretched accommodation for which they pay excessive rent, representing most of their earnings. Police say it is hard to crack such gangs, as in most cases the beggars themselves don’t want to stop and refuse to cooperate with the authorities.

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