Romanian gipsy gang snatched 200 children Oct 7, 2010 0:02:12 GMT -5
Post by Bozur on Oct 7, 2010 0:02:12 GMT -5
Romanian gipsy gang 'snatched 200 children from homes to use them as beggars'
A gang of Romanian gipsy child-snatchers stole almost 200 poor children from their families and brought them to Britain to pick pockets, a court heard.
By Andy Bloxham
Published: 6:15PM BST 27 Sep 2010
The gang has been described as a modern-day version of Fagin's urchins in the Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist.
However, the 181 children were beaten and abused, with some even deliberately disfigured to increase their earning potential, as disabled beggars were thought to generate more income.
Those who did not beg were forced to pick pockets, wash car windscreens or shoplift. The children then had to give every penny of their earnings to the men in control.
Prosecutors said many of the children – taken from some of the most deprived parts of Romania – were even schooled in crime before being trafficked into the UK to work.
Twenty-six men went on trial at Harghita Criminal Court accused of trafficking offences.
The defendants – from Tandarei in Ialomita county, southern Romania – are also charged with money laundering, firearms offences and membership of local mafia clans.
The gang came to the attention of the authorities in Romania after grand homes began to appear among the gipsy community at Tandarei which were being built for people who had no apparent income.
More than 300 officers raided addresses across Slough in Berkshire and in Romania.
Dozens of firearms including AK-47 assault rifles and grenade launchers were seized in raids on more than 30 properties and hundreds of thousands of pounds of cash, jewellery, cars and property were confiscated along with bogus child travel documents.
The youngsters, who ranged from a baby a few months old to a 17-year-old, were taken into care by Slough borough council.
Prosecutors from Romania's Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) said the gang arranged the transport and bogus documents to get the children to Britain and then held them hostage in a series of safe houses run by the gangs.
Some were taught how to steal money from shops and restaurants while others were given instructions in burglary while under constant supervision by a gang member, court documents show.
A police spokesman said: "The children were told their families would be at risk if they tried to flee, and families were told the children would be harmed if they made a complaint to authorities."
The leaders of the group are identified in the court documents as Constantin Radu, Nicolae Schian, Tase Dumitru – nicknamed "Chinezul The Chinese", Mircea Niculae and Gheorghe Ion Dragusin.