Why this story matters:
Another major police crackdown has led to the arrest of several human traffickers who brought workers from Moldova into Germany and exploited them for cheap labor. The Moldovans, who were smuggled into Germany with forged Romanian passports, worked as security guards in the port of Hamburg (Europe's second-biggest), and other locations, including several refugee shelters.
This arrest has drawn attention because it is possible that the gang could be linked with the extreme-right "Reichsbürger" movement which denies the legitimacy of the Federal Republic of Germany and believes that the country should adhere to its pre-1945 borders.
If the police prove that the money from the smuggling operation was used to fund "Reichsbürger," the gang will face further charges. It is also possible that "Reichsbürger" supporters, who are already on the security services watchlist, will be investigated more closely, potentially shedding more light on links between the underground crime world and extreme-right circles.
Details from the story:
- A group of German criminals (a Russian immigrant among them) has been illegally smuggling Moldovan workers to Germany by giving them forged Romanian passports.
- In Germany, the Moldovans were forced to work as security guards in various locations, including the Hamburg port and a couple of refugee shelters.
- The smugglers paid them a fraction of the minimum wage and charged exploitative rents for the bunk beds the migrants slept in.
- The smuggling ring is now strongly suspected to have links to an extreme-right movement of "Reichsbürger" (Reich citizens) since their bookkeeper also acted as a "judge" to her local "Reichsbürger" cell.
- If the police prove that the money from the smuggling operation was used to finance the extremist group, the smugglers might face extra charges.