German police carried out a series of raids against across the country in a crackdown against a gang of suspected Vietnamese smugglers on Tuesday.
A total of 700 police took part in the operation. Berlin was the focus of the raids where police searched more than 20 apartments and business premises, including cosmetics studios and restaurants around the city's eastern Kreuzberg district.
Police also carried out raids in cities in six other German states including Baden-Württemburg, Lower Saxony and Hesse.
During the crackdown police issued 13 arrest warrants and took six suspects into custody. They are wanted on charges relating to the smuggling of at least 155 Vietnamese people to Germany dating back to 2018.
The police took a further 30 people — seemingly trafficked individuals — into temporary custody for questioning, citing uncertainty over their residency status in Germany.
How did the gang operate?
The people were flown first from Vietnam to Eastern Europe. From there they were transported via different routes to Berlin as well as across Germany and to other countries including France, Belgium and the UK.
The people smugglers are thought to have received between $5,000 (€4,496) and $20,000 (€17,985) for each smuggling operation. The smugglers kept people in a network of safe houses until they had paid the price for the flight and visa.