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Iraqi woman
Many Iraqis dream of starting a new life in EuropeImage: AP/DW

Human Trafficking

DW staff (jc)
January 9, 2008

Authorities arrested six people suspected of trying to smuggle Iraqi refugees into Sweden via Germany. The action was the result of months of investigation into an alleged human trafficking ring.


The arrests came in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Jan. 9 in the industrial cities of Gelsenkirchen, Essen and Mülheim. Six people were formally arrested, while five others were detained for investigation and one other person was still being sought.

Authorities think the alleged human traffickers had been paid to bring more than 100 Iraqi refugees to Sweden, where they planned to apply for asylum. Sixty-three refugees have been caught in Germany and Italy this year, but at least 60 others are thought to have gotten through to Sweden.

A police spokesperson said the band rented camper vans to transport the refugees from Greece across Europe via Italy, Austria and Germany.

The dpa news agency reported that those arrested were Iraqi nationals. But other sources said the police had not commented on the nationality of the suspected smugglers.

The arrests were the result of an investigation that started in September 2007 and involved some 200 police officials.

Experts say that Iraqi refugees often land on the European continent in Greece or Italy, then try to make their way through Germany to Sweden, which has some of the most liberal asylum laws in the EU.

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