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

Smuggling gangs make millions ferrying desperate people across the Channel, with Boris Johnson saying criminals ‘get away with murder’

Smugglers charge over £5,000 per person for Channel crossings

Smuggling gangs earn thousands of pounds for every person they transport across the English Channel.

Boris Johnson has vowed to tackle crime groups, which he says are ‘getting away with murder’ after 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 a gang of smugglers were charging desperate migrants €6,000 (£5,053) to cross the English Channel.

The group is believed to have taken 250 people a month across the 21-mile stretch of water, according to French border police unit OCRIEST.

A smuggler told Sky News: “We are collecting and transporting people to the UK via Dunkirk.

This group landed safely on Wednesday, but at least 27 people from another boat died


Tim Merry)

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

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

He added: “Before moving, we have a discussion with them (the migrants), we tell them that this way is the road of death. You can survive or not.”

A smuggler has revealed how groups transport migrants across the English Channel



Last week, the OCRIEST arrested 15 suspects linked to the gang of smugglers who transported 250 people per month across the Channel, reports AFP.

A spokesman for the unit said: ‘It was a network of hardened criminals who were well organized through the complicity of drivers, secret funders and people who stood watch for the police.’

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

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

Another group were rescued from the English Channel on Thursday morning – just hours after the tragedy



In 2018, a Sunday Mirror investigation revealed how Iraqi Kurdish gangsters were using secret social media pages and crossing point passwords.

Then, “like travel agents,” they would target refugees in dilapidated camps with “half-price specials” for children.

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

But once in the UK, many are arrested by “Mr Bigs” and enslaved.

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

A refugee previously said smugglers target makeshift camps as ‘travel agents’


Charlie Varley/

“They call themselves ‘agents’, like travel agents. I met one of them, a young Iraqi Kurd in his twenties.

“He said he lived in England and I had to pay £5,000 each for my wife and I to go. He said my children could 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 from French police that children’s lives were at risk.

It was all that was left of the ‘floating death trap’ vessel which capsized near Calais on Wednesday



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

Two survivors said the boat, described as a “floating death trap”, had been hit by a container ship.

The prime minister has now pledged to ‘speed up’ the border crackdown, saying the tragedy showed why the highly controversial Citizenship and Borders Bill was needed.

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 the UK has ever seen”.

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

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