Iraqi-Kurdish people-smuggling gang that made £3.5m carrying 2,000 migrants across the Channel to the UK is smashed in police raid
- Three Iraqis have been arrested and charged, along with three French suspects
- Ring had logistics hub in Lille, which is about 60 miles from the Channel beaches
- Police discovered ‘a real factory supplying nautical equipment’ in the French city
French police have busted a major people-smuggling ring that has made £3.5million carrying 2,000 migrants across the Channel in dinghies.
The ring, run by Iraqi Kurdish migrants, had a logistics hub in Lille, a northern French city about 60 miles from the Channel beaches around Calais used for crossings.
Three Iraqi men have been charged, along with three French suspects after their arrest on Monday.
Police discovered ‘a real factory supplying nautical equipment’ in Lille, where they seized more than a dozen boats and 700 life jackets.
A group of migrants are brought ashore at Dungeness beach in Kent after being rescued by the RNLI
Police officers speak to migrants at Dungeness beach yesterday in the latest of a wave of crossings
In what was their biggest ever seizure of equipment, they found 13 inflatable boats, 14 outboard engines, 700 life jackets, 100 pumps and 700 litres of fuel.
The group is suspected of having organised 80 Channel crossings over the summer, of which 50 succeeded, with the smugglers netting around 80,000 euros (£69,964) for each one.
The arrests came due to intelligence-sharing between authorities in Belgium, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, who are all trying to crack down on migrants crossing the Channel by boat.
The original tip-off came after a border guard control discovered a group of French youths carrying inflatables from Germany into the Netherlands.
More migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK from northern France so far this year than in the whole of 2021.
Official figures showed a further 667 people arrived in the UK by small boat on Wednesday.
It brought this year’s running total to 30,515 – not including further arrivals yesterday thought to number at least 400.
A Border Force vessel carrying migrants rescued in the English Channel prepares to dock at Dover Dock
Yesterday, the first boatload of migrants was brought at first light into the harbour at the Port of Dover aboard a Border Force catamaran.
Another Border Force vessel, Defender, carried another group of around 40 ashore later in the morning.
More were brought ashore at Dungeness by RNLI lifeboat including women and young children.
There was a stream of further arrivals throughout the day.
This year’s running total compares with 28,526 in the whole of 2021 and just 8,410 in 2020.
So far in September 5,475 people have arrived in 131 boats – already the third-highest monthly total.
The record was broken last month with 8,641, topping last November’s 6,869. This year’s arrivals are running at nearly double the rate seen last year.
At the same point in 2021, there had been about 15,800 small boat arrivals in the UK.
Cost of housing Channel migrants in hotels soars to £1.3bn a year… more than £1billion above Foreign Office forecast, analysis suggests
By David Barrett, Home Affairs Editor for the Daily Mail
The cost of housing Channel migrants and other asylum seekers in hotels has rocketed to £1.3billion a year, according to an analysis.
Migration Watch UK, which campaigns for tougher border controls, said the accommodation was costing almost £4,300 per head each month – equivalent to one and a half times the average NHS nurse’s monthly wage.
The £1.3billion figure was calculated from official figures released in February which showed 25,000 migrants were in hotels on full board.
Assistance: Police help a pregnant lady as a group of people thought to be migrants walk up the beach in Dungeness, Kent, after being rescued in the Channel by the RNLI yesterday
However, the true cost to the taxpayer is now likely to be far higher because more than 28,000 additional migrants have since arrived in the UK by small boat from northern France.
The figure is more than £1billion above a £70million-a-year forecast issued by the Home Office 18 months ago, the report said.
Hotels are being used as a stop-gap for migrants due to a shortage of other accommodation such as social or privately rented housing.
This month residents of Stratford-upon-Avon expressed concern after a recently-renovated Grade II-listed hotel in the town was closed to public bookings to start housing asylum seekers.
Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch, said: ‘As the illegal boat arrivals soared over the summer the number being housed in hotels has likely gone up too.
It is now costing the already hard-pressed, taxpayer eye-watering amounts of money.’
Migration Watch’s report said: ‘With the public facing a worsening cost of living crisis and exploding energy bills, it is unacceptable for ever-growing amounts of public funds to be diverted to providing hotel accommodation on this scale, especially given the fact that it is being spent in response to rising trends in illegal immigration.’
A small boat that is thought to have been used by a group of migrants to cross the Channel
Figures published last month showed the number of asylum seekers receiving taxpayer-funded support climbed to 116,109 at the end of June, up by more than 31,000 or 37 per cent in three months.
The total includes those in longer-term housing and some who receive subsistence allowances only.
Migration Watch said the £1.3billion-a-year cost for the 25,000 people being housed in hotels in February equated to £4,258 per asylum seeker per month. The Royal College of Nursing estimated last year that the average annual salary of an NHS nurse was £33,384, or £2,782 gross per month.