A draft law would allow Germany to expel foreign gang members even if they personally have no criminal convictions.
People smugglers will be a prime target as Germany tries to keep refugee numbers under control. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said on Thursday that one in four asylum seekers are trafficked over the border.
New figures revealed that 60 per cent of suspects involved in organised crime do not have German citizenship. Clans in major cities such as Berlin are a key focus, alongside Italian mafias and Eastern European gangs.
The clans are defined as “informal social organisations” with a common heritage and a loyalty to the group and its values that frustrates investigators, although they stress that not all family members are suspects.
Much of the clan underworld, which has been linked to a series of spectacular crimes such as the Green Vault jewel heist in Dresden and the theft of a giant gold coin in Berlin, traces its roots to Turkey and Lebanon.
Out of 46 investigations into Germany’s clans, 20 are listed by police as primarily concerning the Mhallami ethnic group, part of an Arabic-speaking minority in Turkey that also has a presence in Lebanon. Many clan members have German citizenship.
Nine of the groups are classified as having a mainly Turkish background, with eight described as being of Arab origin. There are three in which Syrians are the “dominant nationality”. The figures cover the calendar year 2022.
About 800 people are being investigated over suspected links to the clans, of whom 339 are German citizens, 146 are from Lebanon, 129 are Turkish and 46 are Syrian, according to police.
Some of the clans are believed to overlap with other criminal elements such as shady “rocker” groups and politically motivated offenders. The suspected crimes include money laundering, drug trafficking and violence.
Investigations typically take a year or more, with members of the Remmo family only convicted this year over the Green Vault robbery in 2019.
However, the proposed law change would allow for people who belong to criminal organisations to be treated as “threatening the security of Germany” and therefore eligible for deportation.
People could be classed as gang members if “the facts support this conclusion”, regardless of whether they have a criminal conviction to their name.
Ms Faeser said the move to “close gaps” in the law was necessary so that Germany could afford to look after 1.1 million Ukrainian refugees as well as others fleeing war and terrorism.
The new bill should “make it possible to deport criminals and potential threats more quickly and resolutely than is possible under current law”, she said.
“This is especially true in the field of organised crime, which we are tackling more decisively, including through deportations.”
Anger over illegal migration has been credited with boosting the far-right Alternative for Germany’s poll numbers. Ms Faeser suffered a heavy election defeat at the weekend in a failed bid to become premier of her home state.
The city government in Berlin recently asked for mafia-busting powers to seize property such as money, luxury cars and other “status symbols” in cases of unexplained wealth.
A similar law introduced in Italy in 1994 ordered people with mafia links to explain the source of their assets or face prison, but led to legal challenges about the presumption of innocence.