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'Red light king' caught in brothel scam crackdown

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'Red light king' caught in brothel scam crackdown
Photo: DPA
12:56 CEST+02:00
Pimp, gangster, docu-soap star and now jailbird. Bert Wollersheim, the Dusseldorf “Red Light King” is in police custody accused of drugging, blackmailing and stealing over €100,000 from punters at his brothels.

The 61-year-old gangster, who became a German household name after starring in a TV docu-soap “The Wollersheims,” was among 11 men arrested by police on Tuesday during nationwide dawn raids on 40 connected establishments.

Officers uncovered €150,000 in cash, a number of stolen watches, 70 grammes of cocaine, 210 grammes of amphetamines and a variety of other medical drugs, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

Die Welt daily reported that the haul mainly came from strip clubs and brothels, and that officers had been planning the raid for months after one of Wollersheim's former colleagues tipped them off.

Wollersheim, who has over 8,000 fans on Facebook, is now being investigated along with 80 suspected members and associates of his Dusseldorf-based gang.

They stand accused of having systematically drugged clients with alcohol, cocaine and date rape drugs in order to gain access to their credit cards, which they then maxed out.

Prostitutes and brothel managers, who helped seek out especially vulnerable victims - such as non-locals - were among those profiting from the scam. The victims were always photographed surrounded by prostitutes and bottles of champagne, so the gang could blackmail them later.

The group is thought to have gained at least €100,000 in this way, although investigators said the true figure may be much higher.

“We're assuming that many injured parties haven't dared to notify the police and will only come forward now,” said head of the police operation Roland Wolff.

A suspected victim was also found in a back room of a table dancing club and taken to hospital after failing to respond to officers.

Wollersheim is thought to be second-in-command to gang boss Thomas M., also taken into custody yesterday, wrote the paper.

The Local/jlb

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