With a large raid, the police in Berlin and Saxony-Anhalt have taken action against a gang of suspected smugglers. More than 20 apartments and offices, especially in Berlin, have been searched since early Wednesday morning, a spokesman for the Federal Police said. Five men were arrested, four of them in Berlin and one in Halle. In total, the police are investigating 18 suspects.

The gang is said to have smuggled migrants from Turkey and Iraq to Germany. They are said to have been flown from Istanbul by plane to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. From there, according to police, cars continued on the so-called Balkan route to Germany.

At least 90 people had been smuggled in this way. The gang is said to have been well organized, with members for the organization and others who were just drivers. The arrested suspects have mainly Turkish and German citizenship, as a police spokesman said.

Suspects were considered aggressive

Around 400 police officers from the Federal Police and the Berlin police were deployed. The Berlin State Office of Criminal Investigation (LKA) and the public prosecutor's office were also involved. Because the suspects were considered aggressive and possibly also possessed weapons, the police used special task forces such as the GSG 9 of the Federal Police.

In several apartments, people had been found who may have been infiltrated, said a spokesman. Their identity cards and residence status would now be checked. The apartments searched in Berlin were located in the districts of Neukölln, Mitte, Reinickendorf, Spandau, Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf and Tempelhof-Schöneberg.

The allegations in the ongoing investigations are, among other things, commercial smuggling of people. The aim of the searches was to confiscate evidence such as mobile phones and written documents. The police also wanted to secure money and other assets. Normally, refugees pay thousands of euros per person to smuggling gangs.