Police in the northern German region of Schleswig-Holstein have expressed concern over finding more and more asylum seekers involved in peddling illegal narcotics and fear the drug gangs could take over the area using violence.
Lübeck police are noticing a rise in the number of mass brawls in the city, some of which have seen the use of knives and involving 20 people at a time. Police say there have been 12 such incidents since May and many involve asylum seekers who have links to the illegal drug trade, Schleswig-Holsteinische Zeitungsverlag reports.
“Regarding some of the brawls, we know they definitely had a drug background,” said Stefan Muhtz, spokesman of the Directorate of Lübeck. Though the men involved are asylum seekers from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and North Africa, Muhtz said: “We are not aware of ethnic conflicts.”
“The consumption of hard drugs and drug trafficking are increasing,” Muhtz added.
Traditionally, it has been Germans and Russian-Germans who have been behind illegal drugs trafficking, but police say they have noticed more and more asylum seekers involved.
Lübeck is not the only place to see mass brawls involving asylum seekers and drugs. In Eutin, four men were injured after a group of 15 asylum seekers fought each other with bats and knives. The market square where the brawl occurred was later declared a “dangerous place” by local police.
In the German capital of Berlin, police are also noticing an increase of asylum seekers becoming involved in the drug trade. Arab gangs in the city are said to be actively recruiting low-level dealers in asylum homes by enticing them with quick and relatively easy cash.
In neighbouring Austria, authorities have noticed more and more asylum seekers becoming active in peddling drugs, especially in Vienna. The influx of Nigerian migrants, who make up a vast proportion of those selling drugs on the streets, has driven up drug crime by 10 per cent.
Another worrying trend that emerged during the investigation into the Berlin Christmas market terror attack has been the increased connection between the drug trade and radical Islamic Salafists. The man responsible for the attack, failed Tunisian asylum seeker Anis Amri, was known to have been involved selling drugs in Berlin.
In late May, police in Berlin arrested nine asylum seekers thought to be dealing drugs. They later found out that four of the men were not only radical Islamists but had direct links to the Islamic State terror group.