A bang against organized crime in Germany!
Düsseldorf – At 4 a.m. sharp, heavily armed police storm 81 houses, commercial buildings and offices in 25 cities in North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Bremen. The special forces ram doors, wood splinters.
It’s about money laundering on a large scale (140 million euros), acts of violence and terrorist financing!
“That was a damn big thing”
“Today we turned off an extremely rich money faucet,” said North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Herbert Reul (69, CDU) about the mega raid with more than 1,400 workers on 81 objects with the participation of state security, tax investigators, special task forces and hundreds. “That was a damn big thing,” he judged, one of the biggest proceedings of his tenure to date. He praised the investigation as “outstanding”.
According to an initial balance sheet, assets of the suspects were found in seven banks. Plus cars, gold, and millions of dollars in cash. A stereo system alone is worth 100,000 euros. A tax advisor also received an unannounced visit.
In total, the group is said to have postponed 140 million euros in order to finance criminal offenses or to launder money from criminal offenses.
“Through the hands of the two main accused alone, 60 million euros have been laundered through hawala banking,” said the minister. The so-called “hawala banking” is understood to mean criminal financial machinations of mafia-like structures that are handled by the tax authorities and state controls.
Many suspects came as refugees in 2015
“The investigation is directed against members of an international money laundering and hawala network,” said NRW Minister of Justice Peter Biesenbach (73, CDU) at a press conference.
67 people are accused of being part of the network that, according to current knowledge, has been operating since 2016. Arrest warrants were carried out against eleven of them and they are now being questioned.
An investigative judge at the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court has already sent a Syrian (39) into custody on suspicion of membership in a terrorist organization abroad. He is said to have headed a task force in Syria in 2013.
Of the suspects, 44 are Syrians, ten Germans, five Jordanians and five Lebanese – a total of eight nationalities. Two are classified as Islamist threats, two others as “relevant” people. According to BILD information, many of the suspects came to Germany as refugees in 2015.
North Rhine-Westphalia’s Interior Minister Herbert Reul added: “With their criminal machinations, the accused discredit all the righteous, decent refugees who rightly seek protection here. I find it infinitely perfidious and malicious when a few pretend to want to build a life here apart from war and then commit serious crimes. It is even worse when the proceeds from it go to the Middle East to allegedly finance terrorism there. “
This is how the raid went in detail
The starting point for the mega raid in three federal states was an incident in May 2020: A car had left the A61 lane. Because the inmates behaved suspiciously, the officers became suspicious – they discovered 300,000 euros in a gym bag.
The Central Office for Organized Crime took over the investigation – and uncovered a huge money laundering network!
The accesses on this Wednesday morning were made so early to take advantage of the surprise effect. The accused should not have time to destroy evidence.
The investigators carried data carriers such as computers and cell phones out of the buildings in boxes and bags, loaded them onto trucks and into cars. The evaluation will probably take weeks. Specially trained data tracking dogs helped the investigators find the objects.
So far, extensive evidence and assets with a total value of over three million euros have been secured, including luxury cars, high-quality watches, gold and jewelry.
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Police sure: Terror was financed with the millions
The officials are certain that the estimated 140 million euros come mainly from drug trafficking and were used in part to finance terrorism.
In addition, the accused are said to have wrongly received social benefits. Violent acts such as armed robbery and hostage-taking to collect existing and alleged claims are also among the allegations.