BERLIN, May 22 (Xinhua) -- More than 500 emergency forces conducted searches of 43 properties in the Cologne area and the Ruhr area which belonged to a suspected organized crime gang, according to a statement published by the police in Essen on Wednesday.
The raids were carried out in 11 cities in North Rhine-Westphalia and were directed against 34 accused persons from the so-called "Al-Salam-313" gang, the Essen police announced.
"Most of those affected have Iraqi or Syrian citizenship. Some of them are German citizens," according to a Tweet posted by the Essen police, which led the raid together with the Essen public prosecutor's office.
The members of the "Al-Salam-313" gang were accused of various criminal offences and were being investigated, among other things, for "trafficking in arms and narcotics, as well as for smuggling and counterfeiting," said the Essen police.
In addition to officers from the criminal investigation department, mobile squads and special task forces took part in the searches, according to the Essen police.
The aim of the searches was "to find further evidence" against the suspects, according to the local German police.