A massive raid of a Düsseldorf neighborhood believed to be a hub for North African gangs has netted 40 arrests for crimes such as pickpocketing, robbery and drug dealing.
Three-hundred police, backed by federal officers and state administration officials, conducted the Saturday evening raids in the capital of the German state North Rhine Westphalia. Their specific target was North African gangs based in the ‘Maghreb’ neighborhood around the city’s railway station, an area also known as ‘Little Morocco’ because of the large North African population and Moroccan-style businesses found there.
A recent police report suggested that around 2,200 people from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria living in Düsseldorf are involved in “suspicious activities”. The Chief of the Federal Criminal Office, Holger Münch told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag:
“Migrants from the Balkans or from North Africa, especially from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, draw attention because of their criminal activities. This is much lower in the case of migrants from Syria and Iraq.”
Details of the raids conducted as part of an operation codenamed ‘Casablanca’ were released by authorities yesterday, reports Deutsche Welle. In total 18 cafes, casinos and Shisha bars were raided resulting in the interrogation of 294 suspects.
Of the 40 resulting arrests, 38 were illegal immigrants one of which faced extradition. Charges leveled at the suspects included handling stolen goods — many stolen mobile telephones were found in the raids — as well as pickpocketing and drug dealing.
This is not the first time residents of the ‘Maghreb’ district have been raided by the authorities. The same neighbourhood was hit nearly a year ago, resulting in the arrests of several people.
This time round police have stressed the fact that the raids were planned last year, and as such had nothing to do with the migrant sex assaults witnessed in Cologne and other cities on New Year’s Eve.