Crime: Raids against smugglers continue in North Rhine-Westphalia

Crime: Raids against smugglers continue in North Rhine-Westphalia

On Wednesday, police in eight federal states took action against a smuggling gang that specialized in wealthy people from China. The mission is not over yet.

The raid against smugglers carried out in eight federal states on Wednesday continued in North Rhine-Westphalia. Around 600 officers from the federal police and public prosecutor’s office were on duty and searched a total of 116 properties, mostly apartments, since 6 a.m., said a federal police spokesman. It’s about the same mission as on Wednesday. “This couldn’t be dealt with in one day,” said the spokesman. “It’s the same context. If yesterday had had 48 hours and not just 24, we would have done it yesterday.”

On Wednesday the focus was on executing arrest warrants and securing evidence; on Thursday the focus was also on securing evidence and also on identifying people who were suspected of being smuggled. The aim is to find out whether those suspected of being smuggled actually lived at the alleged addresses.

Focus in the Düren area

According to the information, the apartments searched on Thursday were in Bergheim, Bonn, Düren, Düsseldorf, Frechen, Hürtgenwald, Inden, Jülich, Kerpen, Cologne, Kaarst, Linnich, Meerbusch, Merzenich, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Ratingen, Solingen and Swisttal.

The clear focus is the Düren area, said the federal police spokesman. After observing a dpa reporter, the police searched apartments in several houses next to each other on a street in the city center of Düren. An employee of the district administration was arrested in the city near Aachen on Wednesday.

Up to 360,000 euros for arranging a residence permit

According to the authorities, the raid on Wednesday dismantled an international smuggling gang that is said to have specialized in rich people from China and Oman. Over 100 apartments, business premises and government offices were searched and ten suspects were arrested. Arranging a residence permit in individual cases could cost up to 360,000 euros, as public prosecutor Hendrik Timmer explained in Düsseldorf.

The main suspects are two 42 and 46 year old lawyers from the Cologne area. The accusation is of gang and commercial smuggling of foreigners as well as bribery and corruption of employees of local authorities. Commercial smuggling carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

According to the investigators, the financially strong foreigners – including from South Africa and India – were recruited via a so-called “residency program” on the Internet. Not only was Germany’s health and education system advertised there, but German citizenship was also promised. Special rules of the Residence Act for the self-employed and skilled workers were exploited.

Source: Stern

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