Prostitution, drugs, human trafficking targeted

Iraqi police launch major crackdown on crime in Baghdad, arrest over 200

BAGHDAD — In a major crackdown on crime in Baghdad’s Bataween district, Iraqi police arrested over 200 people on Thursday, including 40 Sudanese migrants living in the country illegally.

The operation, launched at dawn and expected to last “several days,” targeted “networks of prostitution, drugs, organized crime, and human trafficking gangs,” said Interior Ministry spokesperson General Muqdad Miri.

“This is the first operation of this kind in several years,” Miri told the official Iraqi News Agency (INA). He added that the raid also uncovered weapons, unlicensed hotels, and “currency exchange offices” run by organized crime groups.

Bataween, located in the historic center of Baghdad, has long been a hub for criminal activity. The district is home to a mix of Iraqis, Bangladeshis, and citizens of other Arab nations.

According to General Shaalan Al-Hasnawi, head of Al-Rusafa police in Baghdad, a “preliminary tally” showed 207 people arrested on various charges.

Security forces in Iraq, plagued by corruption, drug trafficking, and the proliferation of weapons, regularly carry out raids against organized crime rings. In April 2023, nearly 200 people were arrested in a raid on illegal casinos in Baghdad during Ramadan. Police targeted four nightclubs where patrons were gambling on blackjack and roulette, activities prohibited in Iraq.