NCA: Foreign Gangs in France Turn to People Smuggling to Make ‘Easy’ Money

French authorities began on October 24, 2016 moving thousands of people out of the notorious Calais Jungle before demolishing the camp that has served as a launchpad for attempts to sneak into Britain. Migrants lugging meagre belongings boarded buses taking them away from Calais' "Jungle" under a French plan to …
PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP via Getty Images

Foreign criminal gangs operating in France have begun to focus their efforts on the people-smuggling trade to the UK because of the high-profit margins and ease of entry, a chief in Britain’s FBI equivalent revealed.

The head of organised immigration crime operations for the National Crime Agency (NCA), Miles Bondfield said that Kurdish and West Balkans gangs have begun focussing more on the trafficking of illegal migrants to the UK due to its “low threshold, easy entry”.

“The profits that are made depend on the cost and outlay and the charging prices that they are making to individuals. It does make it a very, very profitable route. We should not underestimate their two motivations – profit, and power and influence,” Bonfield told The Telegraph.

The wild profits gained by criminal gangs in the people smuggling trade was demonstrated when a group of Afghanis were busted by the NCA and their French counterparts this week.

The gang bought small rubber boats for a price of £3,000 and then charged illegal migrants £2,500 per head. With an average of 15 migrants per boat, the gang made some £37,500 per trip.

In a statement, the NCA said: “The network are accused of buying second-hand boats from classified adverts placed online, then deflating them and burying them on beaches along the coast of the Pas-de-Calais region ready to be used.

“The group are suspected of having been involved in at least six attempt to cross the Channel already, three of which were thwarted by the French authorities.”

Mr Bonfield said that since last July, French and British authorities have arrested 160 people smugglers and stopped over 1,400 migrants from reaching the UK.

Mr Bonfield said that while the boat migrant routes used to be primarily controlled by Iranian and Iraqi groups, he said that the people-smuggling black market has expanded “massively” during the coronavirus crisis, as other illegal entry points to the UK like air travel and lorries have been hampered as a result of travel restrictions.

“The overall threat to the UK around organised immigration crime has reduced but we have seen a massive increase in relation to small boats,” he said. “You should not underestimate the scale and complexity of this threat and the challenge that faces us in tackling this,” he said.

“We are seeing more Kurdish organised crime groups being involved in this trafficking. We are seeing more west Balkans organised crime groups. Sadly, we have seen more Sudanese nationals involved in more chaotic self-generated attempts not facilitated by organised crime groups.”

Bonfield said that the gangs from the West Balkans are mostly Alabanian “poly-criminals”, explaining that they also smuggle firearms, drugs, and launder money.

So far this year, nearly 800 illegal migrants have been recorded to have landed in the UK, far outpacing last years levels at this time. The true number of illegal migrants is likely to be higher, however, as the figures only reflect those who were detected by UK Border Force.

Earlier this month, Breitbart London reported that Home Secretary Priti Patel is seeking to increase the penalty for people smuggling to a life sentence, in an effort to stem the tide of the migrant crisis.

The move was scoffed at by Brexit leader Nigel Farage who said: “More tough talk but this will not stem the flow. The invasion this year will be even bigger than 2020.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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