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German authorities arrest suspect in $12 million food store extortion
01 October 2017, 12:19 | Vera Richards
File A German man has been arrested suspected of poisoning baby food in supermarkets
One or more blackmailers have threatened to poisonfood products in shops in Germany and elsewhere in Europe unless they receive millions in cash, police warned on Thursday.
To press the demand, the blackmailer poisoned five baby food products and last week alerted police to the store they were placed in, in the southern city of Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance.
Authorities are "of the firm opinion" that the nabbed alleged racketeer is the only culprit and no others were involved, said chief prosecutor Alexander Boger said at a news conference Saturday, said the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
Officials in Konstanz, on Germany's southern border, said Thursday the blackmailer or blackmailers alerted them September 16 that five jars of baby food at shops in nearby Friedrichshafen had been manipulated. "[But] there is no reason for panic or hysteria".
But they nonetheless urged consumers to be wary of contaminated foods and tampered food packaging.
"This is an exceptionally severe case of extortion and we have to assume we are dealing with a very ruthless extortionist who is prepared to kill", Mr Stuermer said. The footage was made public to help in the search.
Authorities in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said they would intensify checks of food on sale, but warned that identifying contaminated items would be a challenge.
The food - which had been laced with ethylene glycol, a chemical found in anti-freeze and brake fluid - was found and removed. According to a report by the BBC, no injuries were reported relating to the poisoned food.
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