Italy’s Ansa news service has reported on a fifteen-person child theft ring being run through the town of Bibbiano. Six suspects have been placed under house arrest while warrants were issued on the other twelve. The police operation was launched on June 27th.
Giuseppe Comte, the Italian Prime Minister, was questioned about the arrests during the G20. His response was, “These accusations, if confirmed, are frightening and shocking,”
What sets this ring apart from other child trafficking rings were the people involved and the method of obtaining victims. In this case, the children were being acquired by abusing the social work system… the government.
The Mayor of Bibbiano is one of those implicated as a member of the ring, as well as child case workers and doctors. After children were selected, they would have interviews arranged with social workers, who would then refer them to doctors. Evidence has been found that pictures, intentionally drawn to appear to be the handiwork of a child and showing indications of sexual assaut, would be placed into the file folders. The children would be pressured into describing sexual offenses, and some kids were given electroshock treatment in order to confuse them and make them more compliant.
Once seized from the parents, the children would be sold to “foster families”. Presents and letters from the parents would be redirected to a warehouse, ensuring the children would never receive them.
According to the U.K. Independent, the recipients of the children included sex shop owners and parents whose children had previously committed suicide.
Italian television stations have, since the story broke three days ago, already identified two children who have been sexually abused after being sold. As yet, the Italian government has not revealed the number of children who were seized or the length of time the abduction ring has been operating.