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Police arrest 40 immigrant men in Düsseldorf raid

Düsseldorf authorities have arrested 40 men in a raid on the city's so-called "Maghreb" neighborhood. German officials say men from North Africa have drawn their attention with involvement in criminal activities.

Security forces in Düsseldorf on Sunday revealed their initial findings following a

massive crackdown in the city's "Maghreb" neighborhood

a day ago. The area, also known as "Little Morocco" because of its large North African population and Moroccan-style restaurants, shops and cafes, was a hub for pickpockets and drug dealers, police told journalists.

Officers said they raided 18 cafes, casinos and Shisha bars and interrogated 294 suspects. Thirty-eight of the 40 arrested persons were illegally living in Germany and one of them was to be extradited. One arrested person was accused of dealing with stolen goods. Officials also recovered a large number of stolen mobile phones.

Raids not linked to Cologne incidents

Düsseldorf authorities' current investigations are taking place under a project called "Casablanca." Recently, officials released a report saying they suspected 2,200 men from the "Maghreb," including Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, to be involved in suspicious activities.

Nearly a year ago, officials raided the same area and arrested several people. Police said that Saturday's raid were planned in 2015 and had nothing to do with the events on New Year's Eve in Cologne, when over a

1,000 immigrant men sexually harassed hundreds of women near the city's central railway station.

Speaking to German weekly "Bild am Sonntag," Holger Münch, chief of the federal criminal office, said, "migrants from the Balkans or from North Africa, especially from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, draw attention because of their criminal activities. This is much lower in the case of migrants from Syria and Iraq," he said.

More than one million refugees escaping conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa have entered the country in the past 12 months.

mg/jlw (dpa, AFP)

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