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German police raids drug gang with extremist links

June 13, 2024

Police conducted raids on properties in two western German states, searching for drugs and connections to the radical "Reichsbürger" movement.

Police officers stand in front of a house they have raided in Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia
The raids involved specialized police unitsImage: dpa

Police in the northwestern city German city of Osnabrück said they busted a drug trafficking gang, including one suspect who appeared to have links to the far-right "Reichsbürger" movement.

Police, supported by specialized units, conducted raids on 16 properties in Osnabrück, Hanover and smaller towns in North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony states. 

Investigators said they recovered drugs, luxury watches, jewellery and around €30,000 (roughly $32,500) in cash.

Potential extremist link

They also seized 900 rounds of ammunition, including for a Kalashnikov, at the home of a man believed to be linked to the "Reichsbürger" movement.

Police officers stand close to a table with evidence they said thez seized from properties in two German states
Various items, including ammunition were seized during the raids Image: Moritz Frankenberg/dpa/picture alliance

The "Reichsbürger" (or "Citizens of the Reich" in English) movement does not recognize the formation of modern Germany after World War II.

Several senior members, including alleged ringleader and German noble Heinrich XIII Prinz Reuss, were accused late in 2022 of plotting a coup against the German government and are currently on trial.

Focus of raids on organized crime

Thursday's raids, however, focused on 12 people police say supplied Osnabrück and neighboring regions with drugs.

Investigators confiscated 160 plants, 440 seedlings and around 3 kg of harvested cannabis on a farm which they described as containing a professional indoor cannabis plantation.

Earlier this year, Germany partially legalized the recreational use of cannabis, but prosecutors said Thursday's action was proof authorities were still pursuing illegal cannabis growth.

"Organized crime can still be very successful financially with the organized illegal cultivation of cannabis. This can only be combated with determination, high penalties and effective confiscation of assets," Chief Public Prosecutor Dr. Alexander Retemeyer said.

Critics of Germany's legalization model question whether ordinary consumers will want to grow their own cannabis — the only legal avenue for them to acquire it — and also allege that the changes are liable to do little to nothing to combat the existing illegal plantations and other criminal trade of the drug.

lo/msh (dpa, DW sources)