Inside criminal gangs charging £5,000 to smuggle people across English Channel


People-smuggling gangs are making millions ferrying desperate people across the English Channel, with Boris Johnson claiming the criminals are ‘getting away with murder’

People smugglers charge more than £5,000 per person for Channel crossings
People smugglers charge more than £5,000 per person for Channel crossings

People-smuggling gangs are making thousands of pounds for every person they ferry across the English Channel.

Boris Johnson has vowed to tackle the crime groups, who he said are ‘getting away with murder’ following Wednesday’s tragedy.

At least 27 people, including seven women and three children, died when their boat capsized near Calais on Wednesday.

French police recently revealed that one people-smuggling gang was charging desperate migrants €6,000 (£5,053) to cross the Channel.

The group allegedly took 250 people per month across the 21-mile stretch of water, according to the French border police unit OCRIEST.

One people-smuggler told Sky News: “We collect and transport to the UK people via Dunkirk.

This group made it safely ashore on Wednesday however at least 27 people from another boat died
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Image:

Tim Merry)

“We put them on lifeboats and fix iron rods under the boat with a motor. Normally these boats hold five persons, but we’ve added more than 15 to 20 persons to the boats travelling to the UK.”

The criminal said he made $100,000 (£75,000) through his people smuggling crimes last year.

He added: “Before we move, we have a discussion with them (migrants), we tell them that this way is the death route. You may survive or you may not.”

A smuggler has revealed how groups ferry migrants across the Channel
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Image:

Sky)

Last week OCRIEST detained 15 suspects linked to the smuggling gang which transported 250 people a month across the Channel, AFP reports.

A spokesman for the unit said: “It was a network of hardened criminals who were well organised due to the complicity of drivers, secret financial backers and people who acted as lookouts for the police.”

The group made almost €3million (£2.5million) in profit by using small boats to transport up to 60 people across the Channel at one time.

The number of Channel crossings has been soaring over the past three years.

Another group was rescued from the Channel on Thursday morning – just hours after the tragedy
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Image:

PA)

In 2018, a Sunday Mirror investigation exposed how Iraqi Kurdish gangsters used secret social media pages and passwords for the crossings.

Then, “like travel agents”, they would target refugees in ramshackle camps offering the “special half-price deals” for children.

One refugee told us: “You have to pay mafia here to get on a boat to England.”

But once in the UK many are picked up by “Mr Bigs” and forced into slavery.

Refugee Ahmad Lorpur, from Iran, said: “You have to pay mafia to get on a boat. They are Iraqi-Kurds.

One refugee previously said people smugglers target makeshift camps like ‘travel agents’
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Image:

Charlie Varley/varleypix.com)

“They call themselves ‘agents’, like travel agents. I have met one of them – a young Iraqi Kurd aged in his 20s.

“He said he lives in England and that I needed to pay £5,000 each for me and my wife to travel there. He said my children can go for half the price – £2,500.”

Ahmad, a Christian, added that he had already paid smugglers £6,300 to get his family out of Iran, fleeing religious persecution, and into Europe.

Save the Children called the findings “sickening” and echoed a warning by French police that children’s lives were being put at risk.

This was all that remained of the ‘floating death trap’ vessel that capsized near Calais on Wednesday
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Image:

Sky)

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After Wednesday’s fatal crossing, Boris Johnson said criminal gangs were “literally getting away with murder” and insisted the mass drowning was not a sign that his own plans were failing.

Two survivors indicated that the boat, which was described as a ‘floating death trap’, was hit by a container ship.

The Prime Minister has now vowed to ‘accelerate’ a borders crackdown, arguing the tragedy showed why the highly controversial Nationality and Borders Bill was necessary.

But critics have slammed the Nationality and Borders Bill, with the group Freedom From Torture saying it represents “the biggest legal assault on international refugee law ever seen in the UK”.

They are concerned it will create a two-tier asylum system where refugees from war and violence are denied sanctuary simply because they arrived on a small boat.

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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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