Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

Pistorius and the lone walk to prison

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Armed clowns terrify the north of France

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Central African Republic: Stability still a struggle ahead of 2015 elections

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French papers pay tribute to Christophe de Margerie

Read more

DEBATE

Oscar Pistorius sentenced: Does the punishment fit the crime? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Oscar Pistorius sentenced: Does the punishment fit the crime?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Provocative sculpture "unplugged"

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

'Flying coffins' in Ivory Coast and a rich Maltese couple rescuing migrants

Read more

FOCUS

London now the world's most expensive city

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 8.40 pm Paris time.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

Latest update : 2012-06-15

France: behind the scenes in the war on Romanian gangs

In Paris, locals and tourists often see young Roma gypsies in the street, near tourist attractions trying to get people to sign "petitions", or distract their attention. But behind these young Roma lies a large-scale trafficking operation.

They arrive early in the morning in front of the Paris Opera, one of the busiest tourist spots in the French capital. But the 20 Roma children brought from Romania are not there to see the sights.

Armed with a notebook bearing the logo of a charity for the deaf and mute, they attempt to persuade passers-by to give them donations. But the charity doesn't exist, and the children aren't deaf or mute. The scam works quite well - some tourists give as much as 10 or 20 euros in notes. But the girls don't keep the money long.

The gang leaders are just a few yards away, keeping a discreet eye on operations. Every half hour, they gather the money collected by the children.

Meanwhile, other groups of children are taken to the very centre of Paris, where they split up along the main boulevards. They walk beside the cafes, snatching iPhones that tourists have left on the outside tables. Again, they use the fake petition as a decoy. One second is enough to distract the unsuspecting tourist, before both phone and children disappear in a flash...

Using a hidden camera, we found the stolen smartphones for sale at a market in a suburb in the east of Paris. A woman offers us the very latest model, normally sold at 800 euros, for 250 euros. It's a lucrative business - according to the police, a child can steal as many as five iPhones a day.

To put an end to this criminal network, 17 Romanian police officers have been assigned to France. They are specialised in fighting this type of trafficking.

We followed them during their investigation and at the police stations in Paris where Roma are arrested every day. This unique partnership between French and Romanian police aims to stamp out the criminal networks which have transformed the Roma children into money-making machines.

By Mirel BRAN

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2014-10-17 Uruguay

Uruguay: President Mujica’s social revolution

By legalising both gay marriage and abortion, and decriminalising cannabis, Uruguay has become a real-life social laboratory in Latin America over recent years. The architect of...

Read more

2014-10-10 Haiti

Haiti: Injustice in a time of Cholera

FRANCE 24 reports on the UN’s role in the worst cholera outbreak in modern times. We shine a light on the lack of compassion shown towards the victims of Haiti’s cholera epidemic...

Read more

2014-09-30 Syria

Video: Syrian student risks her life to film IS group stronghold

FRANCE 24 has obtained rare footage secretly shot by a female student in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the stronghold of the Islamic State group in Syria.

Read more

2014-09-26 Russia

Video: Crimea's 'Russification' in full swing

Changing nationalities isn’t always easy. Six months ago, in Crimea, people voted overwhelmingly to join Russia, in a referendum that Western powers deemed illegal. Now, the...

Read more

2014-09-19 Algeria

From Sarajevo to Guantanamo, the journey of the Algerian Six

The day after the 9/11 attacks, six Algerian nationals were arrested in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They were accused of being terrorists and plotting fresh attacks against the United...

Read more