Small boat smuggling gang ‘dismantled’ by police

Connie Queline

Small boat smuggling gang ‘dismantled’ by police

Europol

Police say they have “dismantled” one of the most active smuggling gangs operating in the English Channel.

Nineteen people were arrested in Germany following a year-long investigation by German, French and Belgian police.

Dozens of inflatable small boats, engines and life vests were found during raids at 28 locations.

Europol said the smuggling gang was capable of sending eight vessels to the UK every day.

Among those arrested were five “high value targets”, including the alleged gang leader and “main organisers”.

The network – comprised of Iraqi and Syrian nationals of Kurdish origin – obtained boats from China via Turkey and operated from Germany, investigators said on Thursday.

The boats were driven to northern France and launched from beaches near Calais to the UK’s southern shore.

Europol said the gang crammed up to 55 people into a boat designed for 10 and charged between €1,000 ($1,082) and €3,000 for a place.

Police standing next to shelves stacked with equipment

Europol

The agency described the operation as “highly professional” and it is linked to at least 55 crossings.

Investigations into “individuals managing the financial and money laundering activities for the criminal network” are ongoing.

More than 100,000 people have illegally entered the UK by crossing the English Channel by boat since 2020.

The UK government has made reducing the number of crossings one of its main priorities and says the rate fell by 36% between 2022 and 2023.

Related Topics

  • English Channel
  • People smuggling

SOURCE

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