Afghan gang bury dinghies on French beaches for migrant crossings

Afghan criminal gang are deflating and burying dinghies on French beaches before charging migrants £2,000 each to use them to get to the UK

  • An alleged criminal network is thought to been buying second-hand boats online
  • They then stashed the vessels – which could carry up to 15 migrants – near Calais
  • The migrants would be charged from 2,500 to 3,000 euros each to get to the UK
  • It comes as 10 children were rescued in the English Channel trying to reach UK

An Afghan criminal gang has deflated and buried dinghies on French beaches before charging migrants £2,000 each to get to the UK.

An alleged network is thought to have been buying the second-hand boats online and then hiding them near Calais.

Each boat could carry between 10 and 15 migrants, who would be charged between 2,500 and 3,000 euros each to get to the UK, officers believe.

It comes as 10 children were rescued in the English Channel after spending several hours trying to reach the UK.

They were among 33 people on an 8m boat as French authorities revealed they intercepted at least 61 people trying to make the dangerous crossing on Tuesday.

An alleged network is thought to have been buying the second-hand boats online and then hiding them near Calais. Pictured: Migrants today

French police swooped on the alleged criminal gang and arrested 10 people in the Yvelines region of France, west of Paris.

Eight have been charged following an investigation into the network, it was announced on Tuesday.

On Monday, at least 115 people succeeded in reaching UK shores, the highest daily figure for 2021 so far.

The arrests in France follow months of investigation into what the UK’s National Crime Agency says was an Afghan criminal gang involved in Channel crossings.

Each boat could carry between 10 and 15 migrants, who would be charged between 2,500 and 3,000 euros each to get to the UK, officers believe. Pictured: Migrants today

Officers from the NCA and French illegal immigration unit Ocriest, working together as part of the Anglo-French Joint Intelligence Cell (JIC), launched an investigation into the network in November.

Members of the alleged gang were put under surveillance and agencies from both sides of the Channel worked to link the group to boats that had arrived in the UK.

Eight people have been charged by a French magistrate with facilitating illegal immigration, the NCA announced on Tuesday.

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

On Monday, at least 115 people succeeded in reaching UK shores, the highest daily figure for 2021 so far. Pictured: The Channel today

Miles Bonfield, head of organised immigration crime operations for the NCA said: ‘Operations like these demonstrate the benefits of us working closely with our French counterparts.

‘These people smuggling networks are callous and show no care for the safety of the people they transport, putting them in small dinghies that are unfit for this type of crossing.

‘Working with our law enforcement partners in France and elsewhere we are determined to do all we can to disrupt and dismantle these networks, who are putting lives at risk.’

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