Police yesterday smashed a huge trafficking ring sending an army of children to beg and steal on Britain’s streets from Romania.
In an extraordinary modern version of Oliver Twist, children as young as seven are being kidnapped or bought from their parents in poor gipsy communities.
They were being smuggled to Britain for pick-pocketing, shoplifting sprees and prostitution and the profits used to build giant “gipsy palaces.”
Police estimate that 168 youngsters aged seven to 15 were trafficked.
Today it emerged that many of the children were mutilated before they were sent to Britain.
Gang members believed that disabled children were more likely to evoke pity in passers-by – so they allegedly disabled their own children and those which they bought from extremely poor families to increase their earning potential.
According to the respected Romanian daily newspaper Adevarul, police sources said the case included the sick maiming of the children involved.