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France finally cracks down on migrant smuggling as 15 gang members are rounded up

France finally cracks down on migrant smuggling as 15 gang members are rounded up for charging hundreds of refugees £5,000 each to cross Channel to Britain in packed boats

  • 15 gang members arrested for charging migrants £5,000 for passage to Britain
  • Smugglers had earned some 3 million euros ($3.4 million) in profits, police said
  • Tensions between London and Paris are rising over record numbers of crossings










France has finally cracked down on migrant smuggling and detained 15 suspected members of an international smuggling syndicate that helped people illegally cross the Channel to Britain.

The gang members allegedly charged hundreds of refugees £5,000 each for a place in a packed boat across the Channel. 

The announcement comes as tensions grow between London and Paris over the record numbers of migrants crossing the Channel, with Britain urging tougher action from France to stop them making the voyage.

Those arrested included Iraqi Kurds, Romanians, Pakistanis and Vietnamese who approached migrants in camps in Grande-Synthe outside Dunkirk in the north of France and encouraged them to cross to England in small boats, police said in a statement late Monday.

France has finally cracked down on migrant smuggling and detained 15 suspected gang members that helped people illegally cross the Channel to Britain (pictured, French police watch the makeshift cam pin Grande-Synthe)

France has finally cracked down on migrant smuggling and detained 15 suspected gang members that helped people illegally cross the Channel to Britain (pictured, French police watch the makeshift cam pin Grande-Synthe)

The gang members allegedly charged hundreds of refugees (pictured, migrants in Grande-Synthe) £5,000 each for a place in a packed boat across the Channel

The gang members allegedly charged hundreds of refugees (pictured, migrants in Grande-Synthe) £5,000 each for a place in a packed boat across the Channel

In an investigation that started in October 2020, French police said the network helped at a minimum 250 people per month cross to England, using small boats that transport up to 60 migrants at a time.

Passage to England would cost a migrant 6,000 euros ($6,800) and the smugglers racked up some 3 million euros ($3.4 million) in total profits, the illegal migration branch of the French police, OCRIEST, said in a statement.

‘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,’ Xavier Delrieu, who led the investigation, told AFP.

Passage to England would cost a migrant 6,000 euros ($6,800) and the smugglers racked up some 3 million euros ($3.4 million) in total profits, police said. Pictured: Migrants huddle together on the beach at Dungeness, UK, after three crammed boats arrived on the shoreline

Passage to England would cost a migrant 6,000 euros ($6,800) and the smugglers racked up some 3 million euros ($3.4 million) in total profits, police said. Pictured: Migrants huddle together on the beach at Dungeness, UK, after three crammed boats arrived on the shoreline

The new arrivals bring the total number to have made it to the UK this month to 4,019, exceeding the previous record of 3,879 in September. This year's total is now a record-breaking 23,761

The new arrivals bring the total number to have made it to the UK this month to 4,019, exceeding the previous record of 3,879 in September. This year’s total is now a record-breaking 23,761

The 15 were detained last week and around 40,000 euros ($45,000) in cash seized.

According to the French authorities, 31,500 people attempted to leave for Britain since the start of the year and 7,800 people have been rescued at sea, figures which doubled since August.

In Britain, the ruling right-wing Conservative party of Prime Minister Boris Johnson is coming under intense pressure, including from its own supporters, to reduce the numbers crossing.

According to British authorities, over 25,000 people have now arrived illegally across the Channel so far this year, already triple the figure recorded in 2020.

The issue has added to growing post-Brexit tensions between Britain and France, with a row on fishing rights also still unresolved. 

According to British authorities, over 25,000 people have now arrived illegally across the Channel so far this year, already triple the figure recorded in 2020

According to British authorities, over 25,000 people have now arrived illegally across the Channel so far this year, already triple the figure recorded in 2020

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