Albanian People Smuggler Allegedly Makes a Million Pounds a Week from Channel Migrants

AT SEA, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: An inflatable craft carrying migrants crosses the shipping la
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

An Albanian people smuggler nicknamed the “Golden Lion” is said to make around a million pounds a week profiting from migrants looking to cross the English Channel from northern France to the United Kingdom as arrival numbers continue to break records.

An undercover investigation into people smuggling across the English Channel has allegedly uncovered a major player in the people smuggling business from Albania, who aids migrants in crossing into the UK illegally aboard rubber dinghies. Nicknamed “the Golden Lion,” the smuggler told undercover reporters he could get them into the UK for around £4,500 ($4,800) for each person wishing to undertake the journey.

The Albanian, who was secretly filmed, explained that once migrants cross the Channel then British authorities would find them and take care of them, giving them shelter and food and other supplies, the Daily Mail reports.

The paper, along with Albanian broadcaster ABC, found that much of the illegal smuggling activity was carried out near the main railway station in the northern French city of Dunkirk, with the “Golden Lion” conducting his business at the Le Lion d’Or hotel, which is also where his nickname comes from.

According to the undercover journalists, the Albanian searches for potential migrant clients in the Place de la Gare and then takes them to his hotel where he talks business.

“People on the boat phone their relatives and then they phone the UK police to get you. As soon [as] you cross the water they will give you food, everything. If people are cold they give them blankets,” the Albanian told the reporters and added, “They then drop you at a camp. It will be one day or two days until they register you and see if you are a wanted person and then they let you free and send you to a hotel.”

Said to make as much as a million pounds per week, the “Golden Lion” requests his associate in the UK be paid rather than him in France and despite being arrested shortly after talking to the undercover reporters, he was freed the next day, saying, “They can’t do anything because I have the documents to stay here.”

People smuggling is a big business in northern France as the number of migrants illegally crossing the English channel has already crossed 30,000 so far this year, already smashing the previous record of yearly arrivals in August.

While French police also reported one of the largest people smuggling network busts ever earlier this month, smugglers remain active and often conflict with each other, leading to shootings in makeshift migrant camps that are blamed on rival people smugglers in which several migrants have been caught in the crossfire.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.