German police step up fight against Vietnamese human traffickers

German federal police said Monday they were stepping up European cross-border cooperation to fight Vietnamese human trafficking, after Berlin became a key hub in a network of exploitation in service industries.

German police step up fight against Vietnamese human traffickers
The Dong Xuan Center in Lichtenberg. Photo: DPA

Lured by jobs in Europe, Vietnamese migrants are smuggled illegally often through China or Russia, Carsten Moritz, head of the human trafficking unit of
the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), told public broadcaster RBB.

Arrivals from Vietnam frequently work under “exploitative conditions” to
pay off smuggling debts, which cost around 10,000 to 20,000 per person.

A “huge network” that is “active all over Europe” is behind trafficking from Vietnam, according to the BKA, generating “enormous sums” for criminals.

A Europe-wide operation will be launched this year to tackle the problem initiated by the BKA and bringing in police from countries including Poland, Britain, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Belgium as well as EU law enforcement agency Europol.

Police have previously found migrants — including minors — illegally working in massage parlours, nail salons and restaurants, as well as the textile and cleaning industry.

READ ALSO: What Germany's controversial new immigration laws mean for foreign workers

The eastern Berlin district of Lichtenberg, home to the Dong Xuan Center, one of Germany's largest Asian markets, is of central importance, Moritz said.

In March last year, German police carried out a series of raids against
suspected Vietnamese traffickers and arrested six in relation to charges of smuggling 155 Vietnamese people to Germany.

People who choose to make the perilous journey to Europe often endure appalling conditions.

In 2019, 39 Vietnamese migrants were found dead in a refrigerated truck in Britain shortly after it had crossed the Channel from mainland Europe.

The ringleader Gheorghe Nica was arrested in Frankfurt in January 2020 on a
European Arrest Warrant and later convicted in London of 39 counts of

Another suspected leader in the smuggling, a 29-year-old nicknamed “the
Bald Duke”, was arrested in Germany in May, sources told AFP at the time.

There are around 188,000 people of Vietnamese descent in Germany, according
to official statistics.

Many Vietnamese came as so-called guest workers to communist East Germany, staying after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Others are descended from the “boat people” who arrived in West Germany after fleeing their homeland at the end of the Vietnam War.

READ ALSO: Police bust Vietnamese human-trafficking ring

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Nurse jailed after using voodoo threat to traffick women to Germany

A British-based nurse who used the threat of voodoo on five women to traffick them from Nigeria to work as prostitutes in Germany was on Wednesday jailed for 14 years.

Nurse jailed after using voodoo threat to traffick women to Germany
Rescued migrants in the Meditteranean Sea. Photo: DPA

When giving a sentence, judge Richard Bond said that Liberia-born nurse Josephine Iyamu was guilty of “vile” offences that had left her five victims in fear of their lives.

The women faced a “real and significant” risk of death as they were forced to make the journey across north Africa and the Mediterranean to Italy.

“Trafficking human beings is an ugly offence — it must always be dealt with severely by the courts to deter others from taking part in this vile trade,” said Bond.

“All five of your victims had to be rescued from the boat they were on, before being put into a camp in Italy. You understood the potential dangers, you simply did not care.”

Iyamu, 51, was found guilty under the modern slavery act at Birmingham crown court in central England. She was also convicted of perverting the course of justice while on remand, after arranging for relatives of the victims to be arrested in Nigeria.

The court earlier heard that the five women were forced to hand over money during “juju” ceremonies, where they were made eat chicken hearts and drink blood containing worms.