Following the last post and instead of sensibly going to bed (it's gone 2am), I began to dig up info on Tandarei. I wish I hadn't. It's endless, depressing, despairingly hopeless and tragic...

tandarei1(pic left: The Sun) Tandarei, a remote town 150km from Bucharest, is home to a now-known child trafficking ring where Rroma children aged between seven and fifteen are recruited through possible force to beg, steal and commit other petty crimes on the streets of Great Britain. This from The Sun reports on a school of gradually vanishing pupils and this article from The Sunday Times in April of this year tells how a previously miserable village has suddenly become miraculously opulent - luxury homes have sprung up since borders opened while BMWs and Audis (often with British numberplates) are spotted in the streets more and more frequently ...the mayor says he has no idea where the money flowing into the town's Rroma community has come from. Yeah, right. Tell that to the marines. This same journalist, David Charter (Brussels), writes:

'After a year of planning at least 17 people were arrested after the raids on 33 homes in Tandarei by a small army of organised crime investigators, assisted by 26 Metropolitan Police officers and two observers from Interpol. The identities or roles of those held was not disclosed.

Firearms, jewellery, luxury cars and large sums of money were found at the homes of suspects, according to local media, which said that 320 Romanian officers were involved in the operation.'

Metro reports 'According to police, the youngsters were told their families would be at risk if they tried to escape, while their relatives were warned that the children would be harmed if complaints were made to the authorities. Romanian experts say most child thieves and pickpockets end up in prostitution past the age of 14, because "they cease to be useful" as they can then be arrested by police.' (9th April, 2010)

In an article dating April 23, 2009, the Daily Mail reported on babies as tiny as three months being smuggled into Great Britain to help gangs milk the system of millions of pounds and 'Some of the suspects can be traced to a town in Tandarei which has a large Roma gypsy population.' (Please see this article for the pix - they are copyright so I cannot post them here.)

tandarei_ziare(pic left: Ziare/Daily Mail) My God, it goes on and on. In November, 2009, the Guardian reported on fifteen children being rescued from three homes in Manchester. And what do you know, once again, 'Police intelligence suggested the children were being trafficked out of the small Romanian village of Tandarei into the Greater Manchester area by Roma organised crime groups, said a greater Manchester police spokesman. Detectives have been working closely with the Romanian police, the Metropolitan police and the UK Borders Agency, he added.' The article went on to quote Superintendent Savill (in charge of the operation) and underline that 'Gorton and Longsight have a large Roma community, estimated to be around 1,000 people. Savill said the police had been working with Roma families to help them adjust to living with the settled community in Gorton. "I want to stress that this operation was not intended to stigmatise the Roma who are settled in our community. They have an absolute right to live here and we welcome them into our diverse community," Savill said.'  Well yes, because heaven forfend the British public be accused of racism and persecution of the Rroma community... As I read, my blood boils...

Let's take a step back. Reports are dating back from the spring of 2008 and yet the children keep coming, the trafficking continues, the crimes don't stop. These people have made a fortune off the backs of the children and the general public at large, the tax-payers money and benefits for those that paid into the coffers all their lives. They are without shame, completely brazen and care nothing for the lives of the children they exploit. If the gangleaders are known, the areas are known then why is there so much pussyfooting around? Yes, things are happening, things are being put into place to catch these swines, but not fast enough for the exploited children. No way near fast enough. Is there a fear of being accused of persecuting a people? Is there some kind of nagging worry that the Met will get the same criticism as Sarkozy when he deported a bunch of criminals from the Rroma community back to Roumania - and I add that he ONLY deported those found guilty of crimes, not those who weren't. (Now I'm really going to get hate mail) The abuse and child neglect goes on and on and on - and honest Roumanians end up with an unprintable reputation.

No, I'm not done yet. This site says that 'traffickers estimate each child can earn as much as £100,000 a year in the UK.' That's more than a much appreciated university professor who toiled for years to reach the level he is today. It's more than a nurse. It's definitely more than me. Whoever said 'crime don't pay' needed his brains rewired. But that's hardly the point, really. Two issues here - one is the actual trafficking in itself which is nothing short of a horror and the other is crappy immigration checks.

This very informative article again from the Sunday Times, explains how the whole scam of benefit fraud is able to work. Ordinarily, new arrivals from Roumania and Bulgaria are not entitled to benefits in the UK (I find that a disgrace, but there you have it), but there are ways of circumnavigating the law - 'Claims can, however, be made by the self-employed who have National Insurance numbers and by those who have worked in the country for 12 months. The Romanian gangs use a variety of documents to prove adults are eligible for benefits – and then use the trafficked children in this country to boost the claims.'The journalist also reports 'In an operation in northeast London on August 11 involving Romanian officers and lawyers, police visited 24 addresses and identified 20 children believed to have been trafficked. They found individual backdated payments for benefits ranging from £14,000 to £24,000, with suspected fraudulent claims totalling £100,000'

tandarei3_mail(pic left: Daily Mail) It gets worse, not that it could really get any worse. This excellent site Antislavery gives more info on the raids in Tandarei. 'In addition to the arrests, the operation recovered and seized four AK47 rifles, 12 hunting rifles, 12 shotguns including military grade weapons and six handguns. Other items seized included €25,000, £25,000 and 40,000 Romanian Lei, 13 high value cars, six houses and a substantial amount of evidence linking the gang to crime in the UK and other EU countries.' So, now we are talking armed traffickers and we can't avoid the word 'mafia' anymore... the writer goes on to say, 'Tandarei is home to an estimated 2,000 Roma, a community which suffers high unemployment and discrimination in Romania. A UN report from 2007 reported that up to 70 per cent of Roma households had no running water. This poverty makes the community particularly vulnerable to becoming trafficked as they search for employment opportunities.' Furthermore, 'In 2007, Italian police investigating the rise of pick-pocketing in Milan were able to expose a criminal gang controlling 50 Roma children forced to steal. The operation resulted in the imprisonment of 26 Romanians for up to 14 years for child slavery offences.' Fourteen years. A far more just handout than the Mihai couple, who only got two and a half years for far more heinous crimes in the UK yesterday. The gangs that organise child slavery, child trafficking and child prostitution deserve life sentences for they have destroyed childhoods, memories and futures to line their own pockets.

Another site, Enjoying English Limited says, 'According to social workers who have rescued victims in Austria, some Roma communities punish families which refuse to rent their child to traffickers.' And people still feel sorry for these people, these perpetrators of such terrible crimes, these gangsters... I don't get it.

The Sun reports on an interview with the mayor of Tandarei, 'Tandarei's mayor, Vasile Sava, reckons 300 of the town's gipsies have moved to Britain – but it could be well over 1,000. He said: "When these people get rich they send their relatives money to build fancy homes here with your English pounds. There are 30 or 35 of such housing monstrosities in Tandarei. It is so many that I have banned any more being built. In Romania child benefits are around £5 a month, and 39-year-old Vasile said many people were flocking to Britain because of much bigger state handouts, plus free schools and healthcare. And he said the flood to the UK will increase soon, thanks to his new drive to issue gipsies with ID cards. Most shun being registered by the state but he is encouraging more to do so – enabling them to obtain passports to travel to the UK.'

tandarei4(pic left from Ziarul National) Now I'm going to bed, but I know I won't sleep. I have images of children sleeping on floors in sparsely furnished houses, abused, beaten and forced to beg, steal, act for benefit fraud and God knows what else - doesn't bear thinking about. These gangs...I have no word for them. I keep saying scum, but it's nowhere near insulting enough. Not enough is being done. We know where they are. Go get them, sling them in jail, get those poor children the love, care and protection they need (if it's not too late to make a difference) and do NOT rely on the Roumanian authorities to do anything about it because these criminals can pay their way out of any hole. Yes, yes, jail them at the british tax-payers expense because it's the only way to keep them off the streets. And for God's sake, sentence them to longer than two and a half years since prison is nothing more than a holiday camp as far as they are concerned - a jail in the UK would be Club Med compared to the likes of Rahovei...

The last time a post upset me this much was when I spent all night digging up info on the Chinese mafia of Colentina on the outskirts of Bucharest. It was so shocking that I didn't publish it in the end. Here endeth my research on Tandarei and I wish I hadn't been so determined to learn more....

If you would like to read more, please see: The Daily Mail, article from 2007 - yes, Tandarei is mentioned even then and the mayor has centre stage or this one which makes Tandarei out to be quite lovely. It even talks of the town's poverty strategy! Child trafficking isn't on the list. And the Daily Mail again with this report.