Hundreds of officers are involved in concerted action against suspected people smugglers in a number of locations across four German states. Authorities feel a crackdown on criminal clans is beginning to have an effect.
German police are on Thursday carrying out simultaneous raids at a number of locations to catch members of a criminal clan suspected of engaging in human trafficking.
Two arrests have been made, according to the district attorney office in the city of Trier.
The raids are being carried out in the states of Rhineland-Palatinate, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Berlin and Saarland.
Over 360 federal police officers are taking part in the operation.
Since the start of the year, police have launched a series of crackdowns on clan crime across Germany.
A big problem
In NRW alone, it's estimated that there are over 100 criminal clans operating, with their total membership topping 10,000.
The clans are often involved in prostitution, which is legal in Germany, and also commit acts of violence and vandalism, as well as welfare fraud and other non-violent crimes.
The largest number of suspects linked to clans are German nationals (36%), followed by Lebanese (31%), Turks (15%) and Syrians (13%), according to the police.
For decades, authorities turned a blind eye to the problem, in part to avoid accusations of racial discrimination. Experts say this has made the present-day challenge all the more difficult by solidifying clan structures.