Police say they have arrested 40 men in raids in the German city of Duesseldorf linked to a long-running investigation of suspected organized theft involving people of North African origin.

Police said Saturday evening's raids on 18 cafes, gambling houses and bars near the main railway station were planned last year and not triggered by the New Year's Eve assaults and thefts in nearby Cologne. However, those events, blamed on people in a crowd described as primarily of "Arab or North African origin," have drawn attention to crimes committed by North Africans in Germany.

A police statement Sunday said officers checked 294 people, largely men of North African origin, and arrested 40 — 38 of them on suspicion of illegal residency. They also found six cellphones linked to crimes.