People smugglers use TikTok to charge families £20,000 for deadly lorry journeys into UK


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The Sunday Mirror found 10 adverts to bring people over from the continent, including one which boasted of a chance to meet the Queen

In 2019 the bodies of 39 Vietnamese migrants were found inside a lorry on an industrial estate in Essex

People smugglers are defying a social media crackdown and still advertising deadly journeys from the continent to the UK.

Despite a clampdown announced 10 days ago, Albanian mobsters are using TikTok to plug so-called safe passage in lorries for migrants – with a rate of more than £20,000 per family.

We found 10 adverts, making a mockery of a landmark partnership between Britain and US web giants.

One boasted of a chance to meet the Queen and another claimed passengers could ride alongside the driver on routes from Belgium and Spain.

A number of adverts can be found on social media

They charge people huge sums to come into the UK

One user posted film of London’s Bond Street, with a Union Jack, and wrote: “The last journey this year to meet the Queen in England. Secure journey inside the head of the lorry. 100% secure. For more DM.”

A second advert, posted on December 21, said: “Another journey to England on the head of the lorry. £24,000 sterling. Secure journey to England before Christmas. Get in touch with us quickly.”

That was six days after the National Crime Agency heralded agreements with TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

The firms pledged a “greater collaboration against crime groups using the internet to recruit, communicate and advertise services to migrants”.

It came in the wake of 27 migrants drowning in a dinghy last month.

TikTok has now removed a number of the users highlighted

And even on Christmas Eve 150 refugees, including children and a baby, were intercepted in the Channel – 35 arriving just before midnight and many others being rescued overnight.

Immigration minister Tom Pursglove had said of the web crackdown: “People smugglers use social media to glamorise, promote and profiteer from these lethal crossings and we are determined to stop them.”

Families who respond to the ads for passage by truck are asked to pay in cash. They dream of a better life.

But the risks are perilously high – as tragically shown by 39 Vietnamese refugees who suffocated in the back of a truck in Essex in 2019.

When our undercover reporter messaged traffickers, they provided a UK mobile number and demanded £22,000, paid on arrival in England.

MP Tom Pursglove
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Image:

PA)

Asked where they would meet, the criminal wrote: “Brussels. That’s where drivers gather the people.”

Some 21,365 people were detained after illegally entering the UK in the year to September.

Ex-border control officer Chris Hobbs said: “There is a responsibility for social media to do more. This could lead to a loss of life.”

TikTok has now barred users we identified, saying: “This has no place on our platform. Safety is our priority.

“We invest in people and technology to remove content of this nature.”

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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