French and Dutch authorities have arrested 23 people in connection with a people-smuggling network that is said to have helped around 10,000 Kurds illegally enter the UK.
Eurojust, the European unit for judicial cooperation, announced the arrests earlier this week in a statement saying: “In a joint action by the French and Dutch authorities, coordinated by Eurojust, 23 people were arrested on suspicion of large-scale migrant smuggling.”
Thirteen of the 23 individuals arrested were apprehended in the French city of Le Mans on Tuesday and another four were previously arrested in the Netherlands near the Hague, Ouest France reports.
Investigators also carried out searches of five separate residences used by the network and say the smugglers charged as much as 7,000 euros per migrant and may have profited to the tune of 70 million euros in total.
The investigation into the network began in August 2018, with French authorities citing suspicious activity from individuals driving cars with Dutch license plates on a fairly regular basis.
Migrant activity in the English Channel has surged over the last year with 2,358 migrants picked up by British or French authorities in 2019, up 400 per cent from the previous year.
Number of Migrants Trying to Cross English Channel up 400% over 2018 https://t.co/hR7cZNelPY
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 2, 2020
David Wood, former immigration enforcement at the Home Office, commented on the surge in attempted crossings earlier this month, saying: “The more Border Force cutters there are in the Channel the more attractive it is for those setting sail in small boats. They know they will be picked up and taken to the UK. For them, that is mission accomplished.”
Despite measures taken by French and Belgian authorities to increase their surveillance of the coastal areas by deploying drones, the number of migrants attempting to cross the channel remains high with 49 migrants being brought ashore in the UK on Boxing Day 2019 alone.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed to cut deportation wait times as a measure to combat the rise in new arrivals, with a Home Office spokesman saying: “When there is an incentive, people will find ways to get here, whether it is in lorries, small boats or any other means. If they know they are going to be promptly returned they will stop coming.”