French police have arrested a smuggling gang who was using small boats to bring illegal immigrants across the English Channel to the UK.
The Lille-based, Iraqi Kurdish-run gang was discovered thanks to intelligence sharing between authorities in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom, police said on Sept. 22.
Three Iraqi men and three French suspects were arrested on September 19 and later charged, according to French news agency AFP.
Police found 13 inflatable boats, 14 outboard motors, 700 life jackets, 100 pumps and 700 liters of fuel, said Xavier Delrieu, director of France’s anti-illegal immigration agency Ocriest.
The ring allegedly made 80 illegal crossings of the English Channel over the summer, 50 of which were successful. Human smugglers were able to earn around €80,000 ($78,000) per successful trip.
The number of illegal crossings has surged in recent years, with 28,526 detected in 2021, compared with 8,466 in 2020, 1,843 in 2019, and 299 in 2018, according to Interior Ministry statistics. rice field.
More than 30,000 illegal migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK since early 2022.
According to the UK Ministry of Defence, 21 boats carrying 1,150 people were intercepted on 22nd September, bringing the total crossed so far this year to 31,665.
With this week’s arrivals, officials have erected special tents in Dover, Kent, to continue to protect illegal immigrants who appear to be overflowing existing facilities during processing.
In April, then-Secretary of the Interior Priti Patel signed an agreement with Rwanda that included sending illegal migrants across the Strait to the African country.
The agreement was intended to deter travel by sea, but 26,397 people have arrived by boat since it was signed.
The first repatriation flight to Rwanda was grounded in June amid legal challenges, and the matter is not expected to be decided by a British court until October.
The way British authorities have handled small boats crossing the Channel has been widely criticized.
Two recent reports criticize the Home Office for its “ineffective” response to the challenge of illegal immigration in the channel. Some said the Border Patrol’s approach to interdicting movements was “ineffective and perhaps counterproductive”, while others said the initial treatment of those who arrived was “ineffective and inefficient.” ‘ said it was.
Lily Zhou and PA Media contributed to this report.