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German police raid locations across the country in connection with smuggling of Syrian migrants

BERLIN (AP) — Police in Germany said they found more than 100 Syrian citizens inside apartments and other buildings that were searched Tuesday in connection with the suspected smuggling of migrants.

More than 350 federal police officers searched locations as part of an investigation, police said.

Officers executed five arrest warrants, three in the northern town of Stade and two in the western town of Gladbeck. All five arrested people were Syrian asylum-seekers already living in Germany, federal police said in a statement.

The Syrian migrants had paid them up to 7,000 euros ($7,400) to be smuggled into Germany. The suspects then bought gold with the money.

Investigators seized cell phones, sim cards, gold worth around 220,000 euros and cash amounting to 16,000 euros.

“The investigations in this case ... show how criminal networks take advantage of the personal circumstances and (the migrants') high motivation to flee to maximize their own profits,” according to a statement by federal police at Frankfurt airport, which had ordered the raids on suspicion of gang and commercial smuggling of foreigners.

“From the perpetrators’ point of view, fugitives are a commodity from whose transport maximum profit is to be made,” the statement added.

The focus of the raids was on cities and towns in northern and western Germany but also in Bavaria in the south.

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