German police disrupt major human smuggling operation that secured visas for hundreds, mostly Chinese nationals

German authorities conducted a large-scale raid early Wednesday, police said in a statement. More than 1,000 police officers searched dozens of homes, stores and offices and arrested 10 suspects, including two lawyers. The suspects are accused of having illegally taken advantage of special German immigration rules reserved only for skilled foreign workers to procure residency permits for around 350 mostly Chinese nationals — who don’t meet the needed criteria — in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to the daily Bild newspaper, several in the scam. Raids were carried out in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Wuerttemberg and Bavaria, Hamburg and Berlin where police seized assets and collected evidence. German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser thanked police and prosecutors for the “massive strike against international organized .” “In the fight against smuggling gangs, we need precisely this high level of investigative pressure and this consistent crackdown,” the minister added. “We will continue this tough approach against organized migrant smuggling.” The investigation focused on North Rhine-Westphalia, where the 10 suspects were detained.