German police investigate illegal workers in meatpacking industry

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BERLIN – German police searched more than 40 homes and businesses in five German states early on Wednesday as part of an investigation into foreign workers being illegally brought to the country to work in the meatpacking industry, police said.

Police are seeking to bring in for questioning more than 80 foreign workers, mostly from non-EU eastern European countries such as Ukraine and Belarus, a spokesman for federal police said.

At the center of the investigation are two companies that are suspected of having brought the workers to Germany illegally to place them in meatpacking jobs, and there are 10 main suspects, he said.

Germany’s meatpacking sector has come under fire this year for the widespread use of sub-contracted migrant workers from eastern Europe, as cramped accommodation and poor oversight were suspected of accelerating local coronavirus outbreaks.

(Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Michelle Martin)

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