MOSCOW - Three high-ranking officers from Russia's migration service and the police colluded with criminal gangs to bring illegal migrants to Russia to work in "slave labour" conditions, police said Wednesday.
The Russian police are currently implementing a major crackdown on illegal workers in sweatshop factories and markets in Moscow and have detained several thousand people for migration violations.
Some 600 of those illegal migrants arrested, largely from Vietnam, are being housed in temporary camps ahead of deportation but rights groups have condemned inhumane conditions amid blistering temperatures.
Police said that three officials who helped bring the migrants into Russia have been sacked and could face criminal proceedings.
The officials are the deputy head of the migration service in eastern Moscow and two deputy police chiefs for Moscow districts. They were not named.
Moscow police said in a statement that its officers had "betrayed the interests of the service and engaged in corrupt activities."
Their involvement had come to light during an investigation into "members of the criminal underground who organise illegal immigration and use slave labour, largely from Vietnam, in underground production," it added.
The announcement shows that the influx of illegal migration into Moscow was made possible by high-level corruption within the Russian police force.
The crackdown began last week after an attack on a police officer who was badly hurt at Moscow's Matveyevsky market while trying to detain a suspected sex offender.
In the latest operation in the crackdown, Moscow police on Wednesday arrested 1,000 people after inspecting the Sadovod market in southeast Moscow, the ITAR-TASS news agency said. Those detained have been taken to police stations for checks.