On Wednesday, the German police announced the arrest of 19 Syrian, Lebanese, and Libyan nationals on suspicion of smuggling migrants into Germany, according to Reuters.
Bavaria’s prosecutors said that the suspects were aged between 21 and 44, and described as a professional gang who brought migrants to Germany in vans via Turkey, Greece and Austria.
Since April 2019, they are believed to have brought in about “140 migrants in exchange for large sums of money,” the prosecutors said. They currently face charges of human trafficking.
Federal police discovered the group in August 2019, when smugglers transporting the migrants were arrested on a highway on the Austrian border.
Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Europol were involved in an investigation that led to the arrest of the gang’s head in Austria in December. Germany is currently seeking his extradition.
Over 400 police officers and investigators took part in Tuesday’s raids in the German states of Berlin, Lower Saxony, Hesse, and North Rhine-Westphalia. More than 800,000 Syrians have fled the civil war to Germany. Their numbers peaked in 2015, when a record 1,000,000 people entered Germany seeking asylum.