Germany has arrested a suspected member of an international trafficking network that allegedly smuggled thousands across the English Channel.
After a raid at a farm in Lotte in Westphalia in northwest Germany’s early hours on Tuesday, the 41-year-old German citizen was taken into custody
Dirk P, as Der Spiegel calls him, is accused in the storing of equipment such as inflatable boats and boat motors, as well as life jackets, on his property.
According to a European Arrest Warrant issued in Belgium, he is also suspected of “inhumane or life-threatening smuggling” and membership in a criminal organization.
The suspect fled the scene when officers arrived at the farm in the morning.
Later, a police dog found him hidden in the attic.
This arrest is the result of the largest ever international operation against a gang that was accused of transporting up to 10,000 people in small boats across Channel.
In the joint operation by authorities from the UK, France and Germany in July 20,22, 52 properties were searched and 39 suspected smugglers and supporters were detained.
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Many items of evidence were seized during searches in Germany last Summer, including 119 inflatable boats and 33 boat motors.
The group claimed that they charged EUR3,500 (PS3,000) per person for a place in a dinghy. They often took up to 60 people with them on their dangerous journey from France.
More than 45,000 people arrived in the UK last year on small boats.