1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

German state vows crackdown on criminal clans

May 16, 2019

Intimidation, coercion, assault: clan crime is "not petty crime," according to the interior minister of Germany's most populous state. The problem had been "deliberately ignored" in the past, he said. But not any more.

Police during a raid in Bochum
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Thissen

Germany's first "situation report" on criminal clans revealed 104 criminal clans to be active in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).

The study, presented by NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul on Wednesday, showed the industrial city of Essen to be a particular clan stronghold.

The clans deal drugs, sell cars, control shisha bars and betting shops, but also make money through welfare fraud or overpriced locksmith services.

"Many clan members have low levels of education, but expect a high standard of living," NRW police chief Thomas Jungbluth said.

Some 6,500 clan-linked suspects are believed to have been responsible for 14,225 offenses between 2016 and 2018. This includes two murders and 24 attempted murders, in addition to bodily harm, robbery, and blackmail, police said. Ten clans alone are said to have committed one third of the crimes.

Arab crime gangs in Germany

'Ignored' no more

Reul warned of "mafia structures and parallel worlds" in which a life of crime is passed from one generation to another. Clan members apparently believe they have nothing to fear, Reul said.

"This is exactly what needs to change," he told reporters.

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 years, reports on this problem from citizens and from police circles were deliberately ignored," minister Reul said. "Whether it was from misunderstood political correctness, or because it was considered that things that are not supposed to happen were impossible — this is now finally over."

"We are not under the rule of clans, but the rule of law," he added.

Since the begining of the year, police have launched a series of crackdowns on clan crime in NRW and several other German states.

Berlin seizes crime clan assets

dj/rt (dpa, AFP)

Every evening, DW sends out a selection of the day's news and features. Sign up here.