Police raids homes of alleged Iraqi crime gang in Germany

 
 
Updated 5/22/2019 8:24 AM
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  • Police officers secure a building in Essen, Germany, Wednesday, May 22, 2019. Police in western Germany are raiding premises linked to an Iraqi gang suspected of involvement in human trafficking, drug dealing, illegal arms trade and forging identity papers.  (Stephan Witte/dpa via AP)

    Police officers secure a building in Essen, Germany, Wednesday, May 22, 2019. Police in western Germany are raiding premises linked to an Iraqi gang suspected of involvement in human trafficking, drug dealing, illegal arms trade and forging identity papers. (Stephan Witte/dpa via AP) Associated Press

BERLIN -- Police in western Germany have raided 49 homes and businesses linked to an Iraqi gang suspected of involvement in human trafficking, drug dealing, illegal arms trade and forging identity papers.

Some 800 police officers were involved in the raids that began early Wednesday morning in eleven cities in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, with a focus on Cologne and the Ruhr Valley region, Essen police said.

The authorities targeted the premises of 34 suspects belonging to the Al-Salam-313 gang. They primarily searched for evidence regarding their criminal activities, police spokeswoman Sylvia Czapiewski said.

Police detained one suspect and seized computers, storage devices, drugs, cash and counterfeit money.

"According to current knowledge, this was a successful strike against organized crime," Herbert Reul, the interior minister of the western state told reporters, adding that the raids had been prepared for months.

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