Police in Thessaloniki announced they have dismantled what they described as the largest illegal “birth industry” in Europe, that involved the sale of unborn babies for adoption.
Authorities have arrested 12 people, with another 66 people being charged, over what Thessaloniki crime squad chief, Antonis Tzitzis described as one of the “biggest and best organised” in Europe.
Tzitzis told reporters that police traced at least 22 cases of sold babies, 24 sales of eggs and 10 paid surrogate motherhoods between 2016 and 2019. He said the gang netted at least 500,000 euros ($550,000).
Police said the organisation, allegedly led by a Greek lawyer and an obstetrician, recruited poor pregnant women in Bulgaria and paid them up to 5,000 euros to sell their babies to childless Greek couples.
For each illegitimate adoption, the Greek couple paid between 25,000 and 28,000 euros, with the cost determined by the gender of the child. The gang recruited female egg donors or surrogate mothers, who were mostly young Bulgarian women in vulnerable economic situations.