21 Jul 2015

Police storm Bucharest sewers in anti-drug raid

Police raid the sewers beneath Romania’s capital Bucharest, questioning dozens of people about a suspected drug trafficking ring.

Above: Channel 4 News reporter Paraic O’Brien’s award-winning film from 2014, in which he goes under the streets of the Romanian capital

Police have searched the sewers running beneath Bucharest as part of an anti-drugs raid that extended to buildings nearby.

Dozens of people were reportedly detained for questioning on suspicion of trafficking, along with a 41-year-old suspected of being the ringleader.

Prosecutors investigating organised crime said their investigation was aimed at breaking up a suspected drug-trafficking ring comprising 23 known members.

Above: Paraic O’Brien talks about how he made his 2014 film on the tunnels under Bucharest

They alleged the gang members were selling heroin, methadone and other drugs. Hundreds of people were believed to be dwelling in the sewer network.

Police reportedly discovered drugs, money, paintings and televisions during the search.

The raid follows a series of Channel 4 News films exploring Bucharest’s underworld, exposing the desperate conditions suffered by some of Bucharest’s homeless drug addicts.

Watch more: Paraic O'Brien with the Roma on the streets of London

The network of tunnels and sewers was home to hundreds of men, women and children stricken by drug abuse, HIV and TB.

Just a month after the first film was broadcast, one of the people we encountered died in the tunnels after suffering from Aids, chronic pneumonia and heart failure. Catalina had just turned 18.

Headline image by Radu Ciorniciuc and Casa Journalist, taken during filming of ‘Meet Bruce Lee, king of Romania’s tunnel underworld’

Above: Paraic O’Brien on Catalina, one of the main characters in his film about life in Bucharest’s tunnels