Bosnia charges eight for trafficking pickpockets to France
Bosnian prosecutors on Thursday brought charges against eight people for running a human trafficking network that sent undocumented minors to pick pockets at tourist sites in Paris and other French cities.
The crimes were committed from 2012 to 2015 and made the group nearly three million euros ($3.5 million), they said.
The eight men were charged notably with "organised crime, international human trafficking ... forgery of documents, money laundering, bribery," in both Bosnia and France, a prosecutors' statement said.
The suspects recruited women, children and minors in Bosnia, who were then transported to France to be forced to commit "thefts and pickpocketing in public places, subways, museums... and to send the money to the accused in Bosnia," the prosecutors said.
The accused also illegally obtained ID and travel documents for persons transported to France.
A former employee of the Bosnian embassy in Paris was targeted in an earlier probe and sentenced after pleading guilty.
The accused, none of whom has been arrested, include a municipal employee.
The operation was led in close cooperation with the French authorities as the "crimes seriously threatened security of citizens in France," the statement said.
In 2014 a French court sentenced the ringleader of a gang that forced young girls, mainly from Bosnia, into picking pockets on the Paris Metro to 12 years in prison.
Police said that at one time Fehim Hamidovic's gang was responsible for up to 75 percent of thefts on the Metro, Paris's underground rail network.
The gang trained the girls to pick pockets and find potential targets -- often Asian tourists known for carrying significant amounts of cash.
About 20 members of the gang were also on trial and sentenced to between one and five years in prison.
The gang was busted in 2010 and police estimated it stole a total of 1.3 million euros in Paris in 2009.
© 2018 AFP