Bulgarian police makes arrests in suspected arms smuggling ring

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 19, 2013 1:52 PM

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgarian police have arrested two Bulgarians and a Swedish citizen suspected of involvement in trafficking arms, possibly for use in contract killings in Western Europe, the interior ministry said on Thursday.

Police detained the Swedish man in a bus bound for Germany at a border checkpoint with Serbia late on Wednesday after discovering a Kalashnikov assault rifle and six pistols in his luggage, the ministry said in a statement.

The man, whom the ministry did not name, has been charged with illegal possession of weapons and attempted arms trafficking.

"The weapons were bound for western Europe and the initial (theory) is that they were meant for contract killings," Interior Ministry Chief Commissioner Svetlozar Lazarov said.

Following the arrest, the police uncovered over 600 rifle rounds, gun silencers and dozens of gas pistols and carbines at three sites in a village in southern Bulgaria. Two Bulgarians were arrested during the raids, the ministry said.

Widespread corruption and organized crime still blight the European Union's poorest country and have prevented it from joining EU's passport-free Schengen zone.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Mike Collett-White)