By Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2020

BERLIN (AP) - German police simultaneously searched more than 60 homes and businesses in five states early Wednesday in connection with the alleged illegal trafficking of migrants for use in the meat industry.

Federal police said in a statement that the focus of their investigation was on two different temporary employment companies who allegedly trafficked 82 people mostly from eastern Europe to Germany in the last six months.

Nobody was arrested during the raids in eastern and northern Germany, but investigators confiscated documents and other evidence.

Ten suspects are accused of having forged documents and signed up the workers as fake university students pretending to work in holiday jobs.

The ten main suspects are aged between 41 and 56 years. Their identities were not given, but police said the eight men and two women stem originally from Poland, Ukraine, Russia and Kosovo. Police estimate that the suspects generated about 1.5 million euros ($1.75 million) in profits through their illegal scheme.

During the raids, police detained more than 20 workers who allegedly used forged student documents.

Several bigger coronavirus outbreaks at German meatpacking plants recently have revealed that many of the mostly migrant workers are often exploited and live in desolate, cramped conditions.

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