Greek police dismantle 'birth industry' that sold babies

Police in northern Greece say they have dismantled what they called an illegal "birth industry" that sold babies for adoption

THESSALONIKI, Greece -- Police in northern Greece say they have dismantled what they described as an illegal "birth industry" that involved the sale of babies for adoption.

Police said Wednesday 12 people have been arrested, and that 66 people have been charged.

Thessaloniki crime squad chief, Antonis Tzitzis, said the gang was believed to be one of the "biggest and best organized" in Europe.

He said 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 gang, allegedly led by a Greek lawyer and an obstetrician, recruited destitute pregnant women in Bulgaria and paid them up to 5,000 euros to sell their babies to childless Greek couples.