Albanian people smugglers launch £11,000 'premium service' to get migrants into the UK

7 November 2022, 14:49

Migrants making the crossing to the UK
Migrants making the crossing to the UK. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Albanian people smuggling gangs have launched a fast-track service to get migrants into the UK, according to reports.

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The gangs are charging desperate migrants £11,000 each to make the perilous small boat journey across the English Channel to avoid overcrowded processing camps, the Sun reported.

The people smugglers running the 'premium service' from Belgium claims that the people they ferry across will not end up in the camps, which have recently hit the headlines for overcrowding and disease outbreaks.

Smugglers also say they will provide access to lawyers who can help migrants avoid fast-track deportation.

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“The migrants’ main concern now is finding themselves herded into terrible camps and being unable to leave," a source told the Sun.

“But the gangs are now offering a premium service which they say avoids that — and some people are willing to pay the price.”

A advert on TikTok for a crossing service said: "Journey on speedboat from Belgium for 40 minutes to the UK. The best price tomorrow and after tomorrow.

“Do not put your life in danger on boat. We secure safe crossing, not to stay any day in camp.”

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A Sun investigator messaged one of the gangs asking for details and was told: “You do not go to a detention centre. One hour journey. Price £11,000 per person.”

When the investigator asked if people had already used the route, the trafficker responded: “100 per cent. On Thursday and Friday last week we sent people.”

Read more: Suella Braverman 'booed by migrants' after visiting camps in a military helicopter

Read more: 'We really need your help': Migrant children throw letter over wall begging for help to escape 'prison'

Most people smugglers charge between £3,500 and £5,000 per person. Migrants making these journeys are usually intercepted by Border Force officers and put into camps for processing.

Migrants at the Manston processing centre
Migrants at the Manston processing centre. Picture: Getty

The Manston camp has been the subject of controversy recently because of overcrowding and reported outbreaks of the bacterial infection diptheria, with nearly 40,000 migrants having come to the UK on small boats already this year.

Meanwhile dozens of people were finally removed from the immigration centre at Harmondsworth in west London on Sunday, after a disturbance broke out following a power cut.

Harmondsworth holds hundreds of men, including adult male asylum seekers, foreign offenders awaiting deportation and men who are in the UK illegally.

Migrants making the crossing to the UK in July
Migrants making the crossing to the UK in July. Picture: Getty

A group of desperate detainees left their rooms, armed themselves and went out into the courtyard in anger over the living conditions they faced.

Facing legal challenges, the government has said staff are working hard to rehouse migrants away from the camps, to reduce crowding.

But the conditions in the camps have become so bad that avoiding them is now reportedly a priority for migrants coming to the UK - leading to the launch of the premium service.

Migrants arriving on the beach in Dungeness
Migrants arriving on the beach in Dungeness. Picture: Getty
Migrants arriving in the UK
Migrants arriving in the UK. Picture: Getty

The trade is made relatively easy by the fact that Albanians are allowed to stay in Schengen area countries like Belgium for up to 90 days without a visa.

As many as 50,000 people are set to come to the UK via small boats crossings this year alone - up from just a few hundred in 2018.

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