Bulgaria Organized Crime Genesis

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Bulgaria: Bulgaria Organized Crime Genesis Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (Sofia Photo Agency)

"Secret Transit" is an investigating material by Darik radio crime reporter Bogdana Lazarova on the state-organized trafficking in Bulgaria. It was published in the book, called "Affair", created by Bogdana Lazarova and her colleague Nikolay Hristov. Novinite.com is publishing the whole material, dividing it into several installmentrs.

Here is the second one:

The truth about the genesis of Bulgaria's organized crime, based on groupings, financed by the secret transit channels, was officially revealed for the first time in 1991 in a secret report of Hristo Danov, the then interior minister. Under a decision of the government, led by Dimitar Popov, issued on January 27 1991, there was established a commission for investigating the work of the former Secret Services and other structures, related to them. The report started with announcing the fact that the work of the Secret Services' bodies was regulated by two decrees, issued by Bulgaria's State Council - one from July 16, 1974, which was a top secret and the other - from August 20, 1974. The activities of the Secret Services were regulated also by numerous rules, instructions, orders and other sub-law normative papers.

The secret decree reads that the Secret Services perform its activity under the guidance and control of the Central Committee of Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP), respectively of the Political Council and the first secretary of the Central Committee of BCP. It was specified that the interior minister directly managed the Secret Services activities and reported about it before the Central Committee of BCP, the Political Council and the first secretary of the party. That predetermined the order of all decisions made, including that concerning the state smuggling performance: first the party's decisions were made, then the governmental ones and finally came the orders of the Interior Ministry and the Secret Services.

The term "secret transit" was defined in the report of Hristo Danov: "The secret transit trade was part of the state policy, performed by Bulgarian companies by using the help of foreign citizens. It covered goods, put under international control and their import was not officially allowed by the authorities. Except the goods, usually covered by the secret transit net, like gold, currency, cigarettes, drinks, the activities also included the re-export of weapons and ammo, medicines, controlled by the International Health Organization. The foreign trade enterprise Kintex was established under the Council of Ministers' Decision 189 from 1967 as part of the system of the Foreign Trade Ministry so that the activity could be performed. Kintex had made significant incomes until its functions were seized under the Council of Ministers' Decision 163 in 1985."

Second Department took up that matter in the structure of the Secret Services. It rented the firms, which were related to the secret transit for working in the ministries concerned, as well as Secret Services' employees, responsible for the security and the regime. Danov specifies: "There is data proving that some employees and departments from the Secret Services have been assigned tasks related to traffic of goods (without examination at the checkpoints) but, according to the normative base, which regulated the work of those officers, such tasks have not been assigned."

Although the director of Department "I" with the Second Department had officially demanded in 1985 that the management should not help the secret transit trade any longer and continue working only on revealing and ceasing the activities of the foreign intelligence services on the smuggling channel, a view at the Bulgarian Interior Ministry's papers showed that activity continued until 1989.

Because of information leak and the existing risk of discrediting of the state-owned enterprises and of the state itself, the Foreign Trade Ministry went by the Council of Ministers' decision 163 from 1985 and ordered that a representation of Ikomev Company - Lichtenstein with Intercommers Company should be opened in Sofia. Intercommerce had taken the activity of the Third Directorate of Kintex, except for the secret weapons transit, the report read.

The companies of Kintex "Alltrade" and "Sokotrade" merged with "Ikomev", which, on its part, participates in "Lotus OOF" - a Bulgarian-Austrian company for special bank transfers and other companies. Danov explains "Inar" Company had been founded so that the weapon reserves, whose value was set at USD 20 M, prepared for re-export by Kintex, could be liquidated. The managing posts in all those companies were taken by current and former employees of the Secret Services, who previously were responsible for organizing such channels. Then Danov explained how the ring of the companies, involved in the secret transit, weapon trade and export of controlled substances, got wider. The companies "Turkman", "Shirio", "Ovaras" and "Teraton" are engaged in such activities. Most of their workers were also former Secret Services servants, especially after 14 Interior Ministry employees had been discharged in 1990.

Bulgaria's former Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev commented in 2003 that those channels had been privatized by the people, who professionally managed them, and after 1990 they did it for their own benefit.

This is how the secret transit trade was organized, according to Kostadin Chakurov, personal adviser to communist dictator Todor Zhivkov:

"That was trade like any other. We are talking here about the following - when the prices of certain goods, such as gold and silver, started to rise in Switzerland, the gold and silver set off on a journey from the Arab world to Switzerland. And vice versa: when the prices in the Arab East started to rise, the gold and silver headed to cash in on the higher prices in the Arab world. Part of these activities were managed by a directorate with Kintex and Chimimport companies and other organizations dealing with foreign trade. A few people within the Interior Ministry were also monitoring these activities, in which the key players were international producers of famous brands. They set these channels in place so that they could save on excise duties and fees. They were the producers, they owned the markets, whose routes passed through Bulgaria. Bulgaria offered lower fees, since everybody knew the section was part of a route running for thousands of kilometers. The Bulgarian section was several-hundred-kilometer-long, while the channels crossed the borders of many countries. I must tell you that those countries were unscrupulous, the Greeks and the Turks let in dozens of trucks across their borders. Annual revenues from secret transit trade that flew into the Bulgarian budget totaled BGN 100 M.

There are no records for the bigger part of the activities, which was based on oral orders and agreements, while a huge chunk of the documents and secret materials on the former State Security Services were destroyed in 1990. Yet there have remained some traces. The following excerpt from the highly confidential file of Deputy Interior Minister and head of the Second Department with the Secret Services Georgi Anachkov, dated June 29 1989, on smuggling, currency transfers and drugs trafficking, served by foreign temporary residents in Bulgaria, reveals the role that officials played.

"The agent-operative and guarding activity of the channel was conducted by the Second Department with the Secret Services and the local units of the Interior Ministry, through which territory the transit routes were passing. The transit flow is served by 245 agents and 215 members of the secret police and the people's police. The State Security Police set up 8 residential groups. At the checkpoint at Sofia airport and Kalotina, operative groups were installed which were responsible for 30 agents, 1 local and 60 officials. Ever since 1988 20 undercover agents were installed in the customs and another 19 operative workers, handling special tasks.

Under a secret order N 131, dated July 8, 1966 at the suggestion of the Foreign Trade Minister, the cabinet establishes a new foreign trade body for special property exports - Kintex. The name stands for haberdashery and textile, even though from the very beginning the company is not dealing with haberdashery and textile, but with weapons trade. A year later, following a new order - highly confidential - N 189, dated June 19, 1967 Kintex is assigned to carry out all secret transit trade operations. If we take this date to be the official recognition of smuggling as an official policy, the archives of the Interior Ministry, however, reveal that the secret transit or goods smuggling was part of the state-owned companies operations long before that. A highly confidential check, made by the deputy head of the Currency Department with the State Security Committee, dated April 7, 1966, proves that the state-owned companies "Texim", "Bulet", "Despred", "Raznosiznos" and even the meat processing plant Rodopa were involved in smuggling.
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» To the forumComments (3)
Kolega - 24 Feb 2008 // 02:45:04

Oops forgot:

You problem wasn't with Bulgaria being "bad" before, but with its failure to change enough for the better, right?

Great day care though and "pochivni karti" too ;)))

Kolega - 24 Feb 2008 // 02:40:28

The good old times, right wildthing?

Mat - 24 Feb 2008 // 00:15:55

....and just because the masters have changed, who thinks that the operations have stopped?

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