Migration: Numerous arrests in major raid against smuggler gang

Migration: Numerous arrests in major raid against smuggler gang

The police are launching a major operation against a suspected smuggling gang. In North Rhine-Westphalia alone, around 700 officers are involved in the raids – including special forces.

The federal police arrested numerous people in a major raid against suspected members of a smuggling gang in four federal states, with a focus on North Rhine-Westphalia. Arrest warrants in the double-digit range were executed, a spokesman for the Federal Police in North Rhine-Westphalia told the German Press Agency. According to dpa information, this suspected smuggling network involves, among other things, the procurement of boats to cross the English Channel to Great Britain.

Hundreds of officials in Germany took part in the large-scale operation coordinated by Europol in several European countries. According to the information, the approximately 700 emergency services that were deployed in the morning and mid-morning in the most populous federal state alone also included heavily armed special forces from the federal police. The more than 20 locations in North Rhine-Westphalia were located in Düsseldorf, Cologne and Detmold, among others.

European arrest warrants executed

As a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior previously said upon request, the operation in North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Bavaria and Schleswig-Holstein involved the execution of several European arrest warrants. The police authorities in France and Belgium are also involved. The suspects are said to have been involved in smuggling across the English Channel.

In the north of France, for several years now, when purchasing certain boats and boat engines, it has been necessary to present ID and a telephone number. This regulation was passed as a measure against smuggling into Great Britain. In connection with the major raid, the spokesman for the North Rhine-Westphalia Federal Police also reported search warrants intended to secure evidence.

Crossing the English Channel in rubber dinghies

Europol – the European Union’s police agency – said the operation targeted a key smuggling network that sent people across the English Channel in small boats. The Iraqi-Kurdish network is suspected of having brought people from the Middle East and East Africa from France to Great Britain in low-quality inflatable boats. Europol spoke of more than 15 arrest warrants being executed.

It is not the first time that the police in Germany have become active in connection with smuggling to Great Britain. According to Europol, investigators in five countries busted one of Europe’s largest smuggling gangs in a large-scale cross-border operation in 2022. The gang, which was the focus of the investigation at the time, is said to have smuggled thousands of people in rubber dinghies across the English Channel to Great Britain. At that time, large amounts of cash and firearms were discovered during searches in Germany, along with numerous inflatable boats and motors.

“Today’s internationally coordinated measures by the Federal Police are a great success in the fight against organized smuggling crime,” said Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD). In recent months, the federal police have confiscated inflatable boats and engines that were intended for smuggling across the English Channel.

Source: Stern

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