(Adds details, comment from Deutsche Post)
BERLIN, Dec 8 (Reuters) - German police searched more than 50 homes and businesses and made several arrests across 12 German states on Wednesday as part of an investigation into foreign workers being brought in illegally to be exploited in the logistics industry.
At the centre of the investigation is a gang suspected of setting up a network of companies in Germany and the Baltic States to send non-EU nationals illegally as temporary workers for large logistics companies, federal police said.
In a joint statement with Berlin's public prosecutors and customs office, police said it had confiscated assets worth more than $19 million and arrested nine men, aged between 32 and 62, and a 42-year-old woman.
The origin of the investigation was customs controls in various logistics centres where several foreign employees identified themselves with forged EU identity documents.
The suspected organisation consisted of primarily Russian and German nationals who are believed to have smuggled in foreigners for commercial purposes, arranged undeclared employment and laundered money, police said, adding that recruiting took place mainly in Ukraine and Moldova.
"Checks to date suggest that up to 1,000 employees have entered the local labour market through the company network operated by the gang," it added.
It was not clear which large logistics companies were targeted.
Deutsche Post, a main player in Germany's logistics sector, said it was not affected by the raids.
In 2019, following nationwide raids on illicit employment and exploitation at subcontracting delivery firms, Germany approved a law to force logistics and ecommerce companies that outsource deliveries to ensure their subcontractors pay proper social security contributions for their drivers. (Reporting by Riham Alkousaa and Matthias Inverardi; Editing by Nick Macfie)