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Special Prosecutor's Office charges five with involvement in group for usury and extortion

Special Prosecutor's Office charges five with involvement in group for usury and extortion

21 June 2019 | 15:58 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. The Special Prosecutor's Office has charged five members of an organised crime group involved in usury and extortion through threats and violence, said the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Bulgaria.
The group was arrested on 20 June 2019 in Berkovitsa and the village of Archar, Vidin, in an operation of the Directorate-General for Combating Organised Crime and the Special Prosecutor's Office, with the assistance of the Gendarmerie Directorate. The five members are in a family relationship and have the same surname.
During the searches of the houses and vehicles of the suspects, the law enforcers found and seized about 2 kg of gold jewellery, lists of debtors, master box of cigarettes without excise duty labels, luxury cars, among which Audi Q7 and BMW 535.
The evidence gathered so far indicates that the group has been operating since 2016. It has been mainly involved in usury providing loans with high interest rates - typically 30 percent per month. If the payment was late, the debt amount was sharply increased and the debtor was threatened, assaulted, asked to transfer ownership of their vehicle or home. There is also evidence that the debtors were coerced into illegal activities to find a way to pay off.
The five suspects have lengthy criminal records. The source of funds for their luxury cars and spacious houses will be established.
In the course of the investigation, special intelligence means were used, and a number of witnesses were questioned, some before a judge.
By orders of a special prosecutor, the five group members were detained for up to 72 hours. On 22 June 2019, the prosecutors will request that the Special Criminal Court imposes measure of detention for each of them.
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