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Raid against people smugglers: With rubber boats from Osnabrück across the English Channel


Today, 900 police officers are searching objects in Germany, England, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. According to SPIEGEL information, their target is gangs of smugglers who bring refugees to England.

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Police officers on the coast of Dungeness, UK, observe a rubber dinghy with refugees (2021)

Photo: Gareth Fuller / dpa

It was not a diplomatic speech that French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin delivered to the National Assembly in Paris in December.

Darmanin reported on a German police operation near Osnabrück: Nine inflatable boats, five engines and 100 life jackets were secured.

The next day, however, the police returned the equipment, and the suspicion of theft was not confirmed.

The men presented invoices and delivery addresses for the material.

"The engines later turned up at Dover," Darmanin grumbled in his speech.

90 percent of the equipment for the dangerous smuggling across the English Channel from France to Great Britain comes from Germany.

»One of the leading criminal networks«

The message from the French interior minister seems to have got through: after months of investigations, more than 900 police officers launched an internationally coordinated strike against smuggling gangs.

The federal police are in charge of the campaign, which has been running since this morning.

At the same time, the investigators in Germany, Belgium, France and Great Britain strike.

"The accused are suspected of having smuggled up to 10,000 people across the English Channel in inflatable boats as members of one of the leading criminal networks in the past 12 to 18 months," said a spokesman for the Osnabrück police force when asked by SPIEGEL.

According to information from SPIEGEL and the French newspaper Le Monde, the focus of the raids is in the Osnabrück area, where several warehouses and private addresses were searched by Iraqi-Kurdish smugglers.

Because many of the alleged perpetrators are armed and considered violent, the federal police sent their elite unit GSG 9, and several special forces (SEK) were also deployed.

They are to arrest 18 suspects and search more than 20 objects in Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg and Bremen.

Five properties are to be searched and five suspects arrested in the Netherlands today.

Killer squad struck in Osnabrück

According to police investigations, the smuggling operations bring in several million euros every year.

They are said to earn up to 75,000 euros on a crossing from the north coast of France to southern England.

According to the police, most of the boats that remain on the English coast after the crossing come from China and were apparently brought to Germany via Turkey and Bulgaria.

According to a listing from France, 22,758 people tried to flee from northern France by sea from January to the end of June - an increase of 82 percent compared to the same period last year.

Due to the restrictive British asylum policy after Brexit, the 30 to 50 kilometer long passage across the English Channel is the only way for many asylum seekers to get to England.

It is risky, and refugees often find themselves in distress at sea.

In November, 27 migrants drowned during the crossing when their inflatable boat capsized.

How brutally the smugglers defend their business model became clear last year when two competing gangs attacked each other.

In September, shots were fired in Grand-Synthe, northern France.

The French police are investigating an attempted murder.

Probably in retaliation, a suspected killer squad struck in Osnabrück in November and seriously injured an Iraqi Kurd with several shots in the abdomen.

Source: spiegel

All life articles on 2022-07-05

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