French authorities have filed preliminary charges against six people accused of forcing children to steal and beg as part of a yearlong investigation involving police in France and Romania.

Prosecutors said Friday that another six are still in custody pending further questioning. All were detained in Roma, or Gypsy, camps in a Paris suburb earlier this week. Prosecutors said family members forced minors between 9 and 17 to carry out thefts and they were whipped or starved when they didn't fulfill quotas.

The announcement comes amid political debate about how France is treating Roma.

Police have expelled hundreds from illegal camps in France recently. Residents of a Marseille neighborhood kicked out around 50 Roma from a camp there and burned it down Thursday night, the Sipa news agency reported.