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German police dismantle smuggling network, arrest Syrian refugee

German Federal Police have arrested a member in Essen city of a smugglers' network that brought more than 800 people to the European Union, mostly to Germany, Der Spiegel reported on Thursday.

Policemen stormed a house in the Stein neighborhood of Essen and arrested the Syrian Abdel Hanan, 38, who applied for asylum in Germany in 2021, and was living with a relative.

According to the newspaper, the raids took place in the morning as part of a police operation - under the name "Yolcu" in Turkish (The passenger) as the security forces in Europe combated the Kurdish smugglers' network.

In addition to the inspection in North Rhine-Westphalia, others took place in Brandenburg and Regensburg.

Arrests in Romania as well

And in Timișoara, Romania, one of the focal points for people smuggling on the Balkan route, Der Spiegel said, there were four arrests and several house searches, with 70 officers involved in the operation.

  A total of 11 places were searched there, three cars were seized, and 12 refugees who were supposed to be taken to the West were found. A person was also arrested in Bulgaria last week.

The newspaper pointed out that the party responsible for this case is the Federal Police Department in Potsdam, which has established a special investigation team working in close cooperation with investigators in Turkey and Austria and the European Coordination Office Europol in The Hague.

 In addition, Germany has established a joint investigation team with Serbia and Romania since last December. Because of this cooperation, the three countries' police units were able to quickly share the results of their investigations without the need for complex requests for judicial assistance.

The prosecution of suspected gang members is carried out by the Prosecutor's Office in Landshut.

  Promote on TikTok

The first smuggling cases linked to the group date back to the beginning of 2021, when smugglers promoted through the social media platform (TikTok), especially to Kurds in Turkey and Syria, illegal entry into the European Union and provided videos of successful tours.

 The gang is believed to get between 5,000 and 7,000 euros per person.

According to Der Spiegel, in July 2022, the Serbian police arrested a suspect in the middle level of the organization, who suspected that the Syrian arrested in Essen had provided drivers to smuggle people across the Serbian-Romanian border from Germany.

German police were able to detect two drivers involved in smuggling operations in Regensburg, Bavaria, and that was the reason for the start of investigations into smuggling networks.

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