Berlin police have carried out a series of raids, only this time against a member from its own ranks. A German officer is suspected of taking kickbacks from drug dealers in exchange for information on police operations.
Berlin police carried out a predawn raid at the apartment of one of their own on Friday morning, as part of an investigation into police corruption and ties to the German capital's drug cartels.
A 39-year-old policeman was arrested on suspicion of divulging secret police information to drug traffickers in exchange for bribes.
Four other individuals were arrested during Friday's raids, including two bar owners of Turkish descent. Police said they seized assets worth around €55,000 ($68,000), as well as large stacks of cash and a number of mobile phones.
According to the prosecutor's spokesman, Martin Steltner, the five men struck a deal in early 2016 that saw the detained officer regularly received around €3,000 in exchange for police information.
The prosecution also found that the officer had helped provide a number spaces for storing the drugs, most of which were located in the Berlin district of Wedding. The most-eye catching storage facility, however, was the basement of a poker club in Pankow that the arrested officer even reportedly helped run.
Trouble within Berlin's police ranks
The case has raised questions over whether corruption is becoming an increasingly endemic problem within Berlin's police force.
The latest arrest comes at a particularly troublesome time for the police. Two weeks ago, the German capital's police chief Klaus Kandt was ousted following years of scandal, ranging from abuses at the police academy to mishandling the investigation into the 2016 attack on a Christmas market in the city.
Berlin Interior Senator Andreas Geisel justified axing Kandt by insisting that Berlin's police force desperately needed a new beginning. "I want a police force that is respected and valued by our citizens; a force that is trusted and that trusts itself," he said.
However, authorities maintained that the circumstances surrounding this particular case were exceptional, if not a one-off.
Rüdiger Reiff, an anti-corruption investigator at the Public Prosecutor's Office, said authorities encounter per year between three and six instances of corruption and criminal dealings within police ranks. However, given that there are some 20,000 active officers in German capital, he said it would be unfair to describe the police as having a corruption problem.
A speaker for Berlin's police union, Benjamin Jendro, said that "while these issues come up now and then, the vast majority of Berlin police officers do an excellent job and act according to the rule of law."
dm/kms (dpa, AP)