More than 60 arrested in £500,000 European human egg trafficking and illegal adoption ring
Doctors, medical staff and lawyers among those arrested in raids
More than 60 people, including lawyers and doctors, have been arrested in a £500,000 human egg trafficking and illegal adoption ring in Greece.
Over a three year period vulnerable pregnant women in Bulgaria were targeted by an organised crime gang.
The women were recruited and then transported to Thessaloniki in Greece where they were placed under medical observation and sent to private hospitals to deliver their children.
The newborns were then illegally adopted for between £22,000 to £25,000 each.
The fees included paying the biological mother, all legal expenses, hospitalisation, delivery itself and the members of the criminal group. Some of the mothers brought to Greece were also used as surrogates.
The same gang also trafficked human eggs.
It recruited donors in Greece, who were mainly from Bulgaria, Georgia and Russia.
The women were then transferred to Thessaloniki to undergo a series of fertility treatments to increase the number of eggs.
European crime agency Europol conducted the investigation with Greek law enforcement authorities to dismantle the organised crime group.
In organised raids on Monday 66 people were arrested.
Officers from the Hellenic Police service conducted 12 house searches and arrested 12 people suspected of belonging to a criminal group.
The investigation led to the identification of 10 more members of the criminal organisation.
In total, the case involved 66 individuals, including a lawyer, an obstetrician-gynaecologist and employees of private clinics.
Officers seized £11,500 in cash, three cars, mobile phones and electronic devices, various documents related to adoption and surrogate procedures, birth certificates and bank statements.
It is estimated that the criminal activity generated up to £500 000.
The money was laundered through financial institutions, luxury goods and properties.
Europol conducted operational and financial analysis, which confirmed the involvement of individuals and corroborated other evidence collected in the investigation.
Published: September 26, 2019 02:40 PM