Chasing criminals with drones?
A project to investigate criminal structures in North Rhine-Westphalia raises questions.
Does the drone fly over construction sites with illegal workers?
Berlin / Düsseldorf - The police are now using a drone to track down organized social security fraudsters.
As the Federal Government explains in a response to a small question from MP Andrej Hunko (Left), the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) procured the drone, financed by an EU internal security fund, for a project to combat organized crime in North Rhine-Westphalia.
According to the information, the project with the title “Union” is about gangs who bring compatriots from EU countries in south-eastern Europe - especially Bulgaria and Romania - to Germany.
These are then supposed to receive unjustified social benefits in this country.
According to the federal government, most of the money is withheld by the people behind it.
These would appear in different roles, such as employers, landlords, interpreters or “supervisors”.
The aim of the project is to combat organized fraudulent services by citizens from other EU countries, announced the Federal Ministry of the Interior.
"The aim is to obtain a comprehensive overview of the personnel and criminal structures and initiate appropriate investigative procedures," the answer said.
The North Rhine-Westphalian State Criminal Police Office (LKA) confirmed the acquisition of a drone "as part of a project with the BKA" on request.
A spokesman said, however, for tactical reasons of investigation, one could not say when and for what occasion the device would be used.
According to the federal government, the project began on December 1, 2019 and will end on October 31 of this year.
The drone will then remain with the LKA in North Rhine-Westphalia.
The government did not say which manufacturer supplied them.
Organized fraud must of course be prosecuted, said Hunko.
The fact that the police in North Rhine-Westphalia, together with the Federal Employment Agency, now want to use a drone to counter fraudulent benefits “seems surreal”.
The member of the Bundestag said: "The half a million euros for the project could certainly be used more sensibly."
Investigators arrested seven men in the Düren area on June 16, accused of, among other things, human trafficking and social security fraud. As the public prosecutor's office in Aachen and the LKA North Rhine-Westphalia announced at the time, it was also about suspicion of tax evasion. The accused are said to have employed workers, mainly from Moldova and Romania, in demolition companies for wages of less than five euros per hour in some cases, without paying taxes or paying social security contributions. At the same time, the suspects are said to have collected social benefits and to have taken exorbitant rents from the illegal workers who are said to have housed them in real estate acquired through third parties.
As the Federal Government announced in an earlier answer to a question from the FDP parliamentary group, the Organized Crime Commission decided in October 2018 to “intensify the fight against crime by members of ethnically isolated subcultures and to build a permanent network in this regard”.
The commission includes representatives of the BKA, the state criminal police offices, the federal police and customs.
In addition to the "Union" project, for which the drone was procured, there are three other Commission projects, according to the government.
One of the topics is clan crime, as well as online trading in so-called new psychoactive substances.
One project is called “Organized Narcotics Crime Kosovo Albania”.