German police crack down on Berlin organized crime families

International

A man is led away by police with a blanket over his head during a raid in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. Police cracked down on clan crime in Berlin and the surrounding area with a major raid on Thursday morning. (Christophe Gateau/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — Hundreds of German police and other investigators raided more than 20 buildings in Berlin and the surrounding state of Brandenburg early Thursday in a crackdown on two feuding organized crime families, authorities said.

Two people, a 44-year-old and a 22-year-old, were arrested, police said. No names were given in line with German privacy laws.

Police were investigating illegal drug and weapons trafficking, as well as bodily harm charges linked to a “clash of clans” between an Arab and a Chechen organized crime family last November, prosecutors said in a joint statement with police. At that time, there were several violent confrontations between the two organizations.

The 44-year-old arrested is alleged to have been part of at least one fracas despite being monitored through an electronic anklet, authorities said.

In addition to being suspected of causing bodily harm, the 44-year-old is accused of weapons violations as well as running a marijuana plantation and operating a cocaine delivery service.

The 22-year-old faces drug and weapons charges, as does another 22-year-old suspect who is being sought, police said.

Berlin’s top security official, state Interior Minister Andreas Geisel, said the raids showed that authorities were keeping a pledge to crack down on organized crime in the capital.

“These searches and arrests show we are sticking to it,” he said. “We are not relenting in our systematic fight against organized crime, regardless of who is behind it.”

Berlin police said that in addition to their own SWAT teams and other personnel, federal agents, Brandenburg police and tax officials were involved in the raids, more than 500 personnel in all.

Authorities did not provide further details, but the Bild newspaper reported that one of the targets was the Remmo family, which has alleged links to two recent spectacular heists.

Two of the main suspects in the 2019 theft of 18th-century jewels from a Dresden museum last year are part of the family, which has ties to Beirut.

Mohamed Remmo, 21, was arrested by Berlin authorities in December in connection with the Green Vault Museum theft, while his twin brother, Abdul Majed Remmo, is being sought on an international warrant.

Other members of the Remmo family were convicted last year for a similarly spectacular heist, the theft of a 100-kilogram (220 pound) Canadian gold coin dubbed the “Big Maple Leaf” from Berlin’s Bode Museum in 2017.

The coin, with an estimated value of 3.75 million euros ($4.45 million) has not yet been recovered and authorities think it was likely cut up into smaller pieces and sold off.

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