BERLIN, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- More than 60 residential and business premises were searched simultaneously over investigations on the suspicion of smuggling people into Germany for work in the meat industry, the country's Federal Police (BPOL) announced on Wednesday.
The large-scale police operation with more than 800 officers was carried out in five federal states of Germany. Ten main suspects were believed to have smuggled at least 82 people into Germany over the last six months, according to the BPOL.
Officers seized "extensive evidence" in the searches, including data carriers, business records and documents, BPOL noted. Furthermore, assets of 1.5 million euros (1.8 million U.S. dollars) which were believed to be generated through the criminal business model were confiscated.
After several major COVID-19 outbreaks among employees in meat plants, including one at Germany's largest meat processing company Toennies in June that saw around 1,500 employees infected, working conditions in the country's meat industry and the poor accommodation of employees from abroad have become the spotlight.
A spokesperson of Toennies told Xinhua on Wednesday that no Toennies premises in Germany had been searched and the company had "no knowledge" which companies were affected by the operation.
In response to the poor working conditions revealed by the COVID-19 outbreaks, the government presented a law in July in order to ensure "orderly and safe" working conditions in the meat industry, according to German Ministry of Labor (BMAS).
The law would explicitly prohibit the use of external staff in the core business of Germany's meat industry and would apply to subcontractors as well as labor leasing models from early 2021 onwards, according to BMAS. Enditem