Albanian migrants offered 'TikTok Black Friday' deals by people smugglers ahead of Govt crackdown

27 August 2022, 08:00

Priti Patel has vowed to clap down on people smugglers
Priti Patel has vowed to clap down on people smugglers. Picture: Getty

By Will Taylor

"Black Friday" deals have been offered to Albanians by people smugglers ahead of the Government's bank holiday crackdown on Channel crossings.

Gangs have used TikTok to offer £3,000 to smuggle people into the UK over the perilous shipping lane, down from usual rates of about £5,000.

Clips on the social media app boast of record numbers of crossings as the UK and European authorities struggle to get a handle on the problem.

The deals were offered between August 22 and 25, before home secretary Priti Patel begins a fast-track deportation scheme to send illegal migrants back to Albania.

One advert showed a migrant taking a selfie with the captions "TikTok Black Friday" and "Hurry up. Only £3,500."

It was posted on Monday, when 1,295 crossings were made – the highest daily total recorded.

Priti Patel wants to crackdown on migrant gangs
Priti Patel wants to crackdown on migrant gangs. Picture: Getty

More than 24,000 people have crossed over the Channel despite the danger and death toll in recent years – already close to the 28,000 recorded last year.

"Trips to the UK every 2-3 days. £3.5 K. Do not waste your time with middlemen who leave you in the streets," one video said, The Telegraph reported.

"We have only successes. Get it… only £3.000 the next trip," another told users.

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Other videos showed Albanians waiting in a forest in France to cross, and one claimed: "Record crossing every day. Passages 100 per cent."

Albanians are thought to make up between 50% and 60% of all crossings and the Home Office has begun to focus on the Balkan state.

Ms Patel wants to put senior Albanian officers at Dover to speak to migrants and speed up illegal arrivals' deportations – potentially seeing them sent back in weeks.

Migrant crossings have reached record levels
Migrant crossings have reached record levels. Picture: Getty

She has told TikTok to clamp down on smuggling.

Ms Patel said: "Large numbers of Albanians are being sold lies by ruthless people smugglers and vicious organised crime gangs, leading them to take treacherous journeys in flimsy boats to the UK. This abuse of our immigration system and people risking their lives cannot go on.

"Thanks to our excellent levels of co-operation with Albania, we will take every opportunity to speed up removal of Albanians with no right to be in the UK.

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"I want to thank my counterpart Bledi Çuçi for the work he and his government are doing - we are both steadfast in our commitment to stop this trend.”

Albania's interior minister Bledi Çuçi said "mid-term" solutions that "provide better opportunities for young people, and means of legal migration that enables skilled professionals and labour access to the UK" had been discussed.

An Albanian delegation of officials and senior officers will speak to the Home Office on Tuesday to discuss a fast-track deportation scheme.

Ms Patel's department is also weighing up expanding its 30-day detention scheme that could allow them to hold Albanians for a month while claims are worked on, amid claims they are taught how to make bids for asylum or on the grounds of modern slavery.