Federal police have struck a blow against an internationally operating smuggling ring on May 23, 2023 | Photo: Bundespolizei
Federal police have struck a blow against an internationally operating smuggling ring on May 23, 2023 | Photo: Bundespolizei

German federal police have reportedly busted a globally operating migrant smuggling gang in two German states. Over the past 18 months, the gang members allegedly smuggled 80 migrants to Germany via the Balkan route.

In a large-scale operation in the German states of Baden-Württemberg and Hesse, German federal police forces broke up an internationally active people-smuggling ring on Tuesday (May 23).

According to an online press release, special federal police units searched 11 flats in the cities of Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Hofheim am Taunus, Heusenstamm and Esslingen am Neckar and arrested six suspects. 260 police officers were involved in the mission.

The Munich federal police headquarters investigated the cross-border crime with a special department of the Traunstein public prosecutor's office, according to the press release.

A total of 12 mainly Syrian and Iraqi suspects aged between 25 and 49 are being charged, according to the authorities. The police officers also seized phones and computers as well as about €12,061 in cash, the press release said.

According to previous investigations, the gang members are alleged to have smuggled a total of 80 migrants via the so-called Balkan route through Austria to Germany since November 2021.

They had demanded large sums of money, the statement said.

Also read: Italian police dismantle migrant smuggling network operating from Turkey to northern Europe

Professional proceeding

The Federal Police said the gang had a tactical and professional approach. For example, they used so-called scouts, i.e. vehicles that drove ahead to report police checks.

According to the press release, the border crossings happened on foot in rough terrain and mostly in the Freilassing area in Upper Bavaria, news agency dpa reported, citing a spokesman for the authorities. The investigators also found leads in neighboring Austria and the Czech Republic.

According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), migrant smuggling is the "facilitation, for financial or other material gain, of irregular entry into a country where the migrant is not a national or resident."

The main difference between migrant smuggling and human trafficking, according to UNODC, is "financial or material benefit" versus the actual exploitation of the victim and their person.

Also read: Greece cracks down on major smuggling network

with dpa


More articles