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Europe-Wide Human-Trafficking Ring Cracked

(RFE/RL) May 29, 2006 -- Authorities across Europe say they have arrested 41 Bulgarians in recent days after Italian police uncovered a trafficking network that exploited hundreds of children.

The arrests were in northern Italy, Bulgaria, Germany, and Austria. Italian police say another 75 people have been placed under investigation. Charges against the suspects include enslavement, human trafficking, and drug smuggling.

The Bulgarian Interior Ministry says it made 30 of the arrests as part of the joint operation with Italian police. Officials in Sofia say the criminal ring trafficked women and children into Western Europe.

(AP, Reuters)