Police bust Vietnamese human-trafficking ring

Police busted open a Vietnamese people-smuggling ring on Wednesday morning, raiding 17 houses across three German states and arresting three men believed to be the ringleaders.

Police bust Vietnamese human-trafficking ring
Photo: DPA

A police spokeswoman told The Local that nine people – a woman and eight men – believed to be illegal immigrants, were also found on the raided properties.

They were being interviewed Wednesday, the spokeswoman said. It appeared they were headed for France or Britain but were using Germany as a transit country.

“There was no sign that they were abused or were going to be forced into prostitution,” she told The Local. “They were just people trying to move to another country to live.”

In the massive operation, 250 officers from the Berlin and federal police simultaneously raided 17 locations, 10 of which were in Berlin, with the others in Saxony and Brandenburg.

The three men arrested, also of Vietnamese origin, were allegedly the ringleaders of the organisation, which is believed to span Europe. Europol, or the European Police Office, were also involved in the operation, the spokeswoman said.

The German police had been investigating the gang since the middle of last year, but it was not known how many people might have been smuggled through Germany, the spokeswoman said.

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Blaze-hit section of Berlin’s Grunewald forest to ‘remain shut for years’

The closure in Berlin Grunewald, where a disastrous fire spread earlier this month, is due to exploded munition remnants littering the forest floor.

Blaze-hit section of Berlin’s Grunewald forest to 'remain shut for years'

Two weeks since a devastating fire ravaged part of Berlin’s Grunewald forest, the head of the city’s forests division says the burned out section will have to shut for the next few years.

At 3,000 hectares (about 7,400 acres), Grunewald is the largest green space in Berlin and located on the city’s western edge. The forest – which is nicknamed the ‘green lung’ of Berlin – is a popular area for hiking, biking, and swimming in its lakes.

The forest’s southern half also contains Sprengplatz, an area set up in 1950 to collect and detonate leftover munitions from WWII, particularly those left by allied bombing raids of the then-Nazi capital.

The fire, which broke out at Sprengplatz, scattered detonated many pieces of leftover munitions all over the surrounding forest floor.

READ ALSO: ‘Unprecedented’: How explosions and fires have rocked Berlin’s Grunewald forest

Berlin Forests says the police will be detonating larger explosives in the coming weeks, but that it will take much longer to search for and safely dispose of smaller pieces.

“It’s very time-consuming work and it will take years to collect everything,” Berlin Forests Head Gunnar Heyne told regional broadcaster rbb. “The forest will remain closed for at least that long.”

Heyne is confident though, that the forest itself will recover well quickly, particularly its oak and poplar trees.

While the area around Sprengplatz will remain shut, much of the rest of the forest, including the path to Grunewald’s popular Teufelsee—or “Devil’s Lake,” remain open.

READ ALSO: Firefighters bring Berlin forest fire under control after munitions explosion