Police arrest 15 in Bosnia-France human trafficking ring
Bosnian and French police arrested Tuesday 15 members of a human trafficking ring that forced women and children to beg and steal in cities across France, Bosnian authorities said.
Seven suspects were arrested in Bosnia and eight in France, the police said.
Authorities discovered several children in a house in central Bosnia belonging to the syndicate, police spokeswoman Kristina Jozic told AFP.
It was unclear whether the children, who were taken into care, had been abducted or were the children of women exploited by the traffickers.
"It was not possible to determine the identity of the children, nor of their parents," Jozic said.
The traffickers are suspected of recruiting women and organising their trips to France since 2012.
The women and children involved were subject to blackmail, threats and physical and psychological abuse, police said in a statement.
"Once there, they were forced to steal in the street and give up the money. In some cases, children were also victims," police said.
Investigators estimate that the traffickers made more than two million euros on the operation ($2.2 million), and laundered the proceeds through property and luxury car purchases in Bosnia.
Bosnia, one of the poorest countries in Europe which hopes to join the European Union, is one of the main routes for human, drug and weapons trafficking into the EU.
© 2015 AFP