The police in Berlin and Saxony-Anhalt carried out a major raid against a gang of suspected smugglers. More than 20 apartments and offices, mainly in Berlin, have been searched since early Wednesday morning, a federal police spokesman said. Five men were arrested, four of them in Berlin and one in Halle. The police are investigating a total of 18 suspects.
The gang is said to have smuggled people from Turkey and Iraq to Germany. The people are said to have been flown from Istanbul by plane to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to the police, cars continued from there via the so-called Balkan route to Germany. The smuggled people are said to have paid their so-called smugglers up to 10,000 euros.
At least 90 people were smuggled in this way. The gang is said to have been well organized, with members for the organization and others just being drivers. The suspects mainly have Turkish and German nationality, as the spokesman said. Arrest warrants were issued against five of them, which were executed.
Also GSG 9 in use
400 police officers from the federal police and the Berlin police were on duty. The Berlin State Criminal Police Office (LKA) and the public prosecutor's office were also involved. Because suspects were considered aggressive and possibly also possessed weapons, the police used special units such as the GSG 9 of the Federal Police.
A total of 24 apartments and other rooms were initially searched. Three of them were in Halle. But the numbers could change if you come across clues about other rooms, the spokesman said.
People who may have been smuggled in were found in several apartments. Their IDs and residency status would now be checked. The rooms searched in Berlin were in the districts of Neukölln, Mitte, Reinickendorf, Spandau, Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf and Tempelhof-Schoeneberg.
The allegations in the ongoing investigations include commercial smuggling of people. The aim of the searches was to confiscate evidence such as mobile phones and written documents. The police also wanted to secure money and other assets.
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