site.btaInterior Minister: Over 90% of Migrant Traffickers in Bulgaria Are Foreigners
Over 90% of the migrant traffickers in Bulgaria are not Bulgarian nationals and the bulk of revenues from human trafficking are generated outside Bulgaria, said Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov in Brussels, his ministry reported. Stoyanov took part in an international conference on the setting up of a Global Alliance to Counter Migrant Smuggling, which brought together 415 participants from 57 countries in Brussels on Tuesday.
The Global Alliance and the conference were called by Minister Stoyanov an important sign of the overall commitment of the European Commission to aid the efforts of the EU member states for a more efficient and focused response to this serious challenge. In his address within the second panel of the conference “Response to Migrant Smuggling”, he underscored: “The only way to counter successfully these crimes is to be as active in our cooperation. This includes cooperation between law enforcement agencies of the EU member states as well as partners outside the European Union. Key is the joint work with the European agencies for justice and internal affairs and particularly with Europol,” said Minister Stoyanov.
Since the beginning of the year 1,277 pretrial proceedings have been opened for assisting illegal migration and stay in the country, which is nearly 60% more from the like period of 2022. Nearly half of all pretrial proceedings have been opened in the past months after new legislation took effect. Between August and October alone over 400 vehicles used for smuggling migrants were seized. The number of convictions has also increased. For the first nine months of 2023 809 persons were sentenced, up by 31% from the entire 2022 and 3.5-fold more compared with 2021, said Stoyanov.
Stoyanov recalled that Bulgaria is involved with the control of one of EU’s key borders, that with Turkiye. The Bulgarian border police, assisted by Frontex and the EU member states is working actively to prevent illegal border crossings. For the first ten months of 2023 over 170,000 attempts to cross the border were prevented, which is 21% more from the like period of 2022.
Bulgaria is taking full advantage of Europol’s capacity for exchange of information with regards to illegal migration. The message exchange through SIENA neared 3,000, by 24% from the entire 2022, said Stoyanov.
Since October 2022, two Europol officers have been stationed in Bulgaria near the Bulgarian-Turkish border to carry out secondary security inspections and assist the national authorities by crosschecking Europol databases. To this end since the start of September a task force unit for countering human smuggling has been operational. So far, joint cases involving Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Moldova have been identified, said the Bulgarian Interior Minister.
Stoyanov reconfirmed Bulgaria’s readiness to boost bilateral cooperation, citing the action plan with Austria, whose implementation has boosted joint work for prevention of illegal migration.