‘Migrant horror’ website selling illegal weapons to Germans goes offline, owner flees

‘Migrant horror’ website selling illegal weapons to Germans goes offline, owner flees
A website that spread scare stories on crimes allegedly committed by foreigners, and sold guns dubbed “migrant deterrents” to Germans, has been taken offline. Police are looking for the far-right owner of the “migrant horror” site.

The Migrantenschreck website was run by a Budapest-based company owned by far-right German activist Mario Roensch, 33, according to Die Zeit. Roensch comes from the city of Erfurt, where he organized several anti-refugee demonstrations in 2014.

The guns on sale were exported from Hungary, where they are legal, to Germany where they are not.

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Among the offers were several models of air guns at prices between 229 and 749 euros ($244-799), crossbows and rubber bullets. One of the guns was called “Migrant deterrent DP120 Bautzen,” while another was dubbed “Anti-fascist deterrent,” according to German newspaper B.Z.

The rubber bullets fired by the weapons can do serious damage and even fatally wound a person.

The store said it was operating for the sake of “protecting yourselves and your families,” and promised to deliver the guns secretly “without annoying bureaucratic hurdles and irritating forms.”

Migrantenschreck brought more than 100,000 euros to its owner over an eight-month period, between May and December 2016. An air revolver at a price of 349 euros ($376) is said to have been its best seller.

German customs officers carried out raids in 11 of Germany’s 16 states on January 24 in search for illegal weapons purchased at Roensch’s online store. The officers managed to seize 42 weapons out of 300 that were reportedly ordered by Germans since May 2016.

It is believed the website’s owner took it offline once he learned of the operation.

However, authorities still haven’t had the chance to question Roensch in connection with “incitement of the people” and disinformation, criminalized in Germany, as his whereabouts aren’t known.

On January 29, a photo of Roensch enjoying the sunshine at the seaside appeared on his page in the Russian social network VK.com, along with a caption, saying: “Greetings from Yalta [Crimea]. Merkel: F**k u!” German police, however, suspect that Roensch could still be hiding in Hungary, Die Zeit reported.

Roensch is also a founder of the Anonymous.Kollektiv page on Facebook that has promoted racism and discrimination and xenophobia. The well-known hacktivist group Anonymous has denied that it has any links to Roensch. The page garnered more than 2 million likes before it was shut down by the social media giant.

In June 2016, the magazine Compact, popular among the supporters of right-wing political party Alternative for Germany (AfD), featured ads for Migrantenschreck. However, in October Compact distanced itself from Roensch, who had reportedly worked for the magazine for at least two years.

“We fired him at the beginning of summer 2016 in response to Roensch’s gun business,” the magazine said in an article. “We at Compact have warned about Roensch multiple times; he and his gun shop are dangerous.” 

It could be difficult to prosecute Roensch for inciting hatred and selling guns in Germany, since the website was located on Russian and Hungarian servers. In those countries, the legislation works differently.

The German Criminal Code prohibits “incitement to hatred” and punishes offenders with a sentence of from three months to five years in prison.