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How LBC uncovered a smuggling ring bringing migrants across channel to UK
30 September 2019, 07:15 | Updated: 9 April 2021, 10:08
An LBC investigation has uncovered a major people smuggling ring that claims French police are helping them get people to the UK.
An undercover team for LBC infiltrated the criminal gang, operating out of Dunkirk in the north of France.
He covertly filmed the gang, based in Dunkirk, London and Birmingham, who claimed that French police assist them getting people across the Channel. They said authorities tell them not to cross one day, but to come back the next – possibly due to the waters being patrolled by the UK Border Force.
Posing as an Indian family wanting to bring a young relative to the UK, they met Farooq in his camp deep in woodland off the beaten track in Dunkirk.
Farooq charges £7,000 for a place on a boat and offers a discount for children and subsequent families members wanting to make the trip. He claims to have sent 300 to 400 people to the UK in boats.
The boats are piloted by his team. After being pointed in the direction of the English coastline, they are told not to stop until they cross into UK waters where they will be rescued.
The majority of the money for the crossings changes hands in the UK, with a deposit of between £500 and £1000 going straight to Farooq, who has bank accounts in the UK, France and Pakistan.
LBC’s undercover team were given three UK address to pay a deposit to secure the crossing; a restaurant and an off-licence in west London and a newsagent in Birmingham.
The Home Office have launched an investigation into the ring, using the information we supplied them.
A spokesperson said: "The organised crime groups behind the illegal attempts to cross the Channel are putting the lives of vulnerable people in serious danger for their own financial gain.
"We are determined to put a stop to this illegal activity and last week alone Immigration Enforcement and the National Crime Agency made 23 arrests as part of a series of ongoing investigations into suspected people smuggling.
"An investigation based on the information provided by LBC is already under way."
In the video - seen at the top of the page - the moment our team meet Farooq, who ran the people smuggling ring, can be seen. The following conversation transpired, in which he discussed how the French police help them.
LBC reporter: How many people you sending already, do you think?
Farooq: Every time, 30, 40, 30, 40, 50... Last night people pass. I think it’s 20, 25 people it’s gone.
Farooq: When you’re going to the beach… Police coming, the French police. Is told, “Today not possible. Today go, next day come.”
LBC reporter: Police say that?
LBC reporter: Police say okay?
Farooq: Sometimes, when people are going, the French police with him. When he’s crossed the border, after [they just say], “Bye bye”… I don’t know. Now, a lot of people pass. Like here, three-four hundred people pass.
LBC reporter: So police is no problem?
Farooq: French police is no problem. Police [in France] just give you the way.
LBC reporter: They’re helping?
Farooq: Just go, go…
Tomorrow, LBC follows the trail of the money for the people smuggling ring, where agents work out of convenience stores in London and Birmingham.