SOFIA – Agence France-Presse
Bulgaria on Dec. 13 shut its busy border crossing with Turkey as 14 customs officials were detained in an anti-corruption raid, chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said.
“All customs officers from the morning shift, who control the entries into Bulgaria at the Kapitan Andreevo (border checkpoint) were detained within a probe against contraband,” Tsatsarov told public BNR radio.
“We apologise to travellers” over the closure, he said, adding that traffic from Bulgaria to Turkey was flowing uninterrupted.
Kapitan Andreevo is the largest and busiest border checkpoint in the Balkans and a major crossing point on the route between Europe and the Middle East.
BNR reported that a queue a dozen kilometres long of trucks, waiting to enter Bulgaria, had formed the Turkish side.
Bulgaria’s state security agency DANS conducted about 100 raids in five towns close to the border, Tsatsarov added, without giving further details about the aim of the raids.
The radio meanwhile said the probe was targeting a major cigarette smuggling ring.
Bulgaria’s position at Europe’s exterior border makes it a major crossroads on the route of goods smugglers and human traffickers.
Migrants are also regularly caught at Kapitan Andreevo and other checkpoints, trying to cross into Europe hidden inside trucks.
Cigarette smuggling is another lucrative business with a major ring dismantled last March.