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Germany: Suspected Migrant Smugglers Arrested in Nationwide Police Raid

Five Syrian nationals were arrested Tuesday in connection with suspected migrant smuggling. Police also discovered more than 100 other undocumented Syrians, during raids which came as district authorities called for a tougher asylum policy.

Police in Germany conducted simultaneous raids across the country on Tuesday (September 26) and issued arrest warrants against five people suspected of migrant smuggling.  

Arrest warrants were issued against two women and a man in the northern town of Stade and a woman and a man in the western town of Gladbeck, a federal police spokesperson told the German news agency, dpa.  

More than 350 German federal police officers were involved in the raids that were all conducted at 6am in five German states. Police at Frankfurt international airport reportedly ordered the raids on suspicion of gang and commercial smuggling of foreigners. 

More than 100 Syrian citizens, who were believed to have been brought into Germany without legal documents, were found inside apartments and other buildings. 

Cell phones and laptops, as well as a suspected smuggler’s car in Gladbeck, were seized during the raids. Specialists will reportedly examine the electronic devices as part of further investigations.  

In addition to gang and commercial smuggling of foreigners, the suspects are also accused of money laundering and using their illegal income to buy gold jewelry. 

Dwindling acceptance among local communities 

Investigations that began in 2022 show that the Syrians were first flown to Greece, given real passports from compatriots, and then brought to Germany through various means of transport. Later, the alleged gang leader reportedly switched to the Balkan route as a point of entry. From there, the migrants traveled to Germany on foot, by car and truck, reported the German newspaper Spiegel. 

The police raids come on the heels of the news that the administrative districts in the state of Brandenburg are calling for a tougher asylum policy.

Siegurd Heinze, chairman of Oberspreewald-Lausitz district, told dpa that they no longer have the capacity to accommodate refugees. The counties, cities, and municipalities in the Brandenburg state which surrounds Berlin have been sounding the alarm over exceeding their capacity since last year. 

“There must be a stringent repatriation of people who are not entitled to asylum,” Heinze said. “In their case, cash payments must at least be minimized, preferably not granted at all.” 

Heinze also warned of a tense situation amidst a dwindling acceptance among local residents and the possible emergence of “tent cities, gymnasiums, and container solutions again.” 

Toxic political discourse 

Ali, a Syrian who has been living in Berlin for the last two years, told InfoMigrants that the state’s focus on criminalization and law enforcement reinforces a toxic political discourse against migrants. 

“You always hear about these monthly police raids in migrant communities in Berlin, cracking down on a ‘mafia cult’, but in reality, they just find two guys working in a falafel shop,” said Ali, who requested that only his first name be used. 

He also expressed concern about how this impacts the perception of the Syrian community. 

“How many Ahmads’s are there in prison compared to Johannes’s or Hans’s? This reflects a widespread perception of the Syrian community promoted by toxic political discourse and problematic media reports,” he said. 

Source : infomigrant