Three Bulgarian men were arrested Thursday suspected of attempting to traffic pregnant women to Greece in order to sell their babies, the interior ministry said.

The alleged 41-year-old mastermind of the gang and his two accomplices, aged 30 and 31, were detained in the Black Sea city of Burgas and will be charged with trafficking of human beings, it said in a statement.

The suspected gang leader had already been jailed for the same crime before.

The ministry did not say if any of the women were arrested or how many were involved.

Bulgarian police have uncovered several cases of baby trafficking to Greece, France and other countries in recent years.

In 2011 alone, prosecutors opened 138 cases into alleged human trafficking, including seven for trafficking of newborns. There were 29 cases of pregnant women illegally taken abroad to sell their babies, interior ministry data showed.

Under the usual scheme, the pregnant women agrees to recognise the foreign citizen who is to buy her baby as its father, thus avoiding lengthy international adoption procedures.


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